Canterbury DHB


Monoclonal Antibodies

In This Section




Rituximab, a humanised anti CD20 monoclonal antibody, was approved for use overseas in indolent lymphomas in 1997. Since then, Rituximab has been used widely in all types of B-cell CD20 positive lymphomas. It has also been effective in a number of non-malignant conditions when immunosuppression combined with low toxicity is required.

For a full discussion of the role of rituximab and other monoclonal antibodies in NHL see ASH EPB 2005 p. 329, p. 335. See also the Rituximab Data Sheets on Medsafe.


Alemtuzumab, a humanised anti CD52 monoclonal antibody, is licensed as a third line treatment for B cell CLL.

Standard treatment involves a subcutaneous injection (unlicensed) or IV infusion three days a week, starting at 3 mg and progressing to 10 mg and finally 30 mg as infusion-related reactions allow. For intravenous infusions, premedication with hydrocortisone 100 mg, chlorphenamine 10mg, and paracetamol 1000 mg is recommended to minimise the infusion-related reactions. Dose escalation should not occur until the current dose is tolerated. Additionally, if treatment is delayed by more than a week, then dose titration should be restarted.

Cutaneous skin reactions are more prevalent with subcutaneous administration.

Alemtuzumab administration is currently the preferred method of T cell depletion prior to allogeneic stem cell transplant. For more information and specific dosing regimen, see the individual transplant protocol.

Alemtuzumab is only available via a compassionate use scheme. Contact the haematology pharmacist for the application paperwork and to coordinate supply.

About this Canterbury DHB document (5732):

Document Owner:

Steve Gibbons and Fiona Stone (see Who's Who)

Issue Date:

March 2017

Next Review:

March 2020


Note: Only the electronic version is controlled. Once printed, this is no longer a controlled document. Disclaimer

Topic Code: 5732