Rasburicase is a medicine that is sometimes given at the start of chemotherapy for leukaemia or lymphomas. This page from Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) explains what rasburicase is, how it is given and some of the possible side effects. Each person reacts differently to medicines, so your child will not necessarily suffer from every side effect mentioned. When chemotherapy starts to kill the leukaemia or lymphoma cells, uric acid is released from inside these cells. It can crystallise and cause damage to the kidneys.

Rasburicase works by allowing uric acid to be more easily removed from the body by the kidneys.

Rasburicase should not be taken by anyone with a condition called glucose 6 dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD). Tell your doctor if your child or anyone in your family has G6PD.

How is it given?

It is given as an infusion over 30 minutes into a vein (intravenously or IV) through a cannula, central venous catheter or implantable port.

What are the side effects?

Allergic reaction

Some children receiving rasburicase may have an allergic reaction to the drug. This reaction may be mild to severe.

Signs of a mild allergic reaction include skin rashes and itching, high temperature, shivering, redness of the face, a feeling of dizziness or a headache. If you see any of these signs, please report them to a doctor or nurse.

Signs of a severe allergic reaction include any of the above, as well as shortness of breath or chest pain. If you are in hospital and your child shows signs of a severe allergic reaction, call a doctor or nurse immediately.

Blood disorders

Rarely, rasburicase can cause problems with the way that the red blood cells work. Your child’s blood will be checked regularly to monitor this side effect.

Nausea and vomiting

Anti-sickness drugs can be given to reduce or prevent these symptoms. Please tell your doctor or nurse if your child’s sickness is very bad or continues for more than a few days.

Interactions with other medicines

Some medicines can react with rasburicase, altering how well it works. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving your child any other medicine, including medicines on prescription from your family doctor (GP), medicines bought from a pharmacy (chemist) or any herbal or complementary medicines. Cough and cold medicines (other than paracetamol) should be particularly avoided.

Compiled by:
The Pharmacy department in collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group
Last review date:
May 2020