Azathioprine
   

Azathioprine
Pronunciation
Brand Names
Foreign Brand Names
Therapeutic Categories
What key warnings should I know about before taking this medicine?
Reasons not to take this medicine
What is this medicine used for?
How does it work?
How is it best taken?
What do I do if I miss a dose?
What are the precautions when taking this medicine?
What are the common side effects of this medicine?
What should I monitor?
Reasons to call healthcare provider immediately
How should I store this medicine?
General statements

Pronunciation
(ay za THYE oh preen)

Brand Names
Imuran®

Foreign Brand Names
Azatrilem (Mexico)

Therapeutic Categories
Immunosuppressant Agent

What key warnings should I know about before taking this medicine?

  • Long-term use of azathioprine may increase your risk of getting cancer.


Reasons not to take this medicine

  • If you have an allergy to azathioprine or any other part of the medicine.
  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.


What is this medicine used for?

  • This medicine is used to prevent your body's rejection of solid organ transplants such as kidney.
  • Other uses include treatment of severe active rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and other autoimmune diseases.
  • It may take weeks or months to see the benefit in some diseases.


How does it work?

  • Azathioprine decreases the body's response to diseases affecting the immune system.
  • It helps the body accept a new organ more easily.


How is it best taken?

  • Take with or without food. Take with food if this medicine causes an upset stomach.
  • A liquid (suspension) is available if you cannot swallow pills. Those who have feeding tubes can also use the liquid. Flush the feeding tube before and after medicine is given. Shake well first.


What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Take a missed dose as soon as possible.
  • If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed one. Return to your regular schedule.
  • Do not take a double dose or extra doses.
  • Do not change dose or stop taking medicine without talking with healthcare provider.


What are the precautions when taking this medicine?

  • If you are 65 or older, you may have more side effects.
  • Tell healthcare provider if you are taking allopurinol. Azathioprine's dose will need changing.
  • The risk of cancer is higher after taking this medicine.
  • Vaccines may be less effective. Avoid the use of live vaccines.
  • Avoid aspirin, aspirin-containing products, ibuprofen or like products, other blood thinners (warfarin, ticlopidine, clopidogrel), garlic, ginseng, ginkgo, vitamin E. Talk with healthcare provider.
  • Tell healthcare provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Make sure to tell about the allergy and how it affected you. This includes telling about rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, throat; or any other symptoms involved.
  • Do not use in pregnancy and do not get pregnant. Use birth control that you can trust while taking this medicine.
  • Do not use if you are breast-feeding.


What are the common side effects of this medicine?

  • Risk of infection. Avoid crowds and people with infections, colds, or flu.
  • Nausea or vomiting. Small frequent meals, frequent mouth care, sucking hard candy, or chewing gum may help.


What should I monitor?

  • Check temperature. Watch for signs of infection.
  • Check blood work usually every 2 weeks to start. Talk with healthcare provider.
  • Follow up with healthcare provider.


Reasons to call healthcare provider immediately

  • Signs of a life-threatening reaction. These include wheezing; tightness in the chest; fever; itching; bad cough; blue skin color; fits; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Fever and/or chills, sore throat, or sore mouth.
  • Severe nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding.
  • Nausea, vomiting, belly pain, feeling tired, dark urine, yellow eyes/skin, not hungry.
  • Any rash.
  • No improvement in condition or feeling worse.


How should I store this medicine?

  • Store tablet in a tight, light-resistant container at room temperature.
  • Store suspension in a tight container in the refrigerator. Throw away after 2 months.


General statements

  • Do not share your medicine with others and do not take anyone else's medicine.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Keep a list of all your medicines (prescription, herbal/supplements, vitamins, over-the-counter) with you. Give this list to healthcare provider (doctor, nurse, pharmacist, physician assistant).
  • Talk with healthcare provider before starting any new medicine, including over-the-counter or natural products (herbs, vitamins).


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