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Drugs

Side Effects
Serious

Rapid heartbeat; sudden fever or chills; back, side, muscle, or joint pain; unusual tiredness or weakness; cough or hoarseness; shortness of breath; black, tarry stools; blood in urine or stools; difficult or painful urination; severe or sudden stomach pain with nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea; red spots, red patches, or blisters on skin; unusual bleeding or bruising; abrupt or sudden, unusual feeling of discomfort or illness. These may be signs of serious infection, bleeding emergencies, or gastrointestinal problems. Seek immediate medical assistance.
Common

Moderate nausea and vomiting; loss of appetite.
Less Common

Liver problems, skin rash, sores in mouth, stomach pain, swelling of feet or lower legs, shortness of breath.
Azathioprine


Drug Class:
Immunosuppressant

Available OTC?: No

Available Generic?: Yes

Generic 50 mg
(Roxane)
Available In
Why Prescribed
How It Works
Range and Frequency
Onset of Effect
Duration of Action
Dietary Advice
Storage
Missed Dose
Stopping the Drug
Prolonged Use
Over 60
Driving and Hazardous Work
Alcohol
Pregnancy
Breast Feeding
Infants and Children
Special Concerns
Overdose Symptoms
What to Do
Drug Interactions
Food Interactions
Disease Interactions


Available In
Tablets, injection

Why Prescribed
To slow down or reduce the natural tendency of the immune system to reject organ transplants, and to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions.

How It Works
Azathioprine prevents the immune system from attacking transplanted organs and slows down immune cells that cause inflammation in joints and elsewhere.

Range and Frequency
For transplant rejection-- Tablet and injection: Initially, 3 to 5 mg per 2.2 lbs (1 kg) of body weight daily. With improvement the dose may be reduced to 1 to 2 mg per 2.2 lbs daily. For rheumatoid arthritis-- Tablet: 1 mg per 2.2 lbs daily. This may be increased to not more than 2.5 mg per 2.2 lbs daily.

Onset of Effect
4 to 8 weeks.

Duration of Action
Suppression of the immune system may persist long after the drug is completely eliminated.

Dietary Advice
Take it with food or immediately following a meal to reduce stomach irritation.

Storage
Store in a tightly sealed container in a dry place away from heat and direct light. Keep liquid form refrigerated, but do not allow it to freeze.

Missed Dose
For once-daily schedules: Do not take the missed dose. Take your next scheduled dose at the proper time and resume your regular dosage schedule. Do not double the next dose. For multiple-dose daily schedules: Take your missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is time for your next scheduled dose, take the two doses together and resume your regular dosage schedule. If you miss more than one dose in a day, call your doctor.

Stopping the Drug
Take this drug as prescribed for the full length of treatment, even if you begin to feel better before the scheduled end of therapy

Prolonged Use
Prolonged use increases the risk of side effects and the possibility of cancer.

Over 60
Adverse reactions may be more likely and more severe in older patients.

Driving and Hazardous Work
The use of azathioprine may impair your ability to perform such tasks safely.

Alcohol
Avoid alcohol.

Pregnancy
Do not use this drug if you are pregnant. It should not be used by either the male or the female partners if you are trying to become pregnant.

Breast Feeding
Azathioprine passes into breast milk; avoid or discontinue use while nursing.

Infants and Children
Azathioprine has not been shown to affect children differently than adults. Consult your pediatrician for advice.

Special Concerns
Infection is a great threat to people with suppressed immune systems. Azathioprine may lower your ability to resist infection by lowering the number of white blood cells in the blood. Do not receive any vaccinations without approval from your doctor. Avoid people with infections. Azathioprine may also suppress platelets (the blood components that control blood coagulation), and thus cause bleeding problems. Use care with scissors, nail clippers, nail files, razors, toothbrushes, dental floss, or toothpicks. Inform your dentist that you are taking azathioprine.

Overdose Symptoms
Unusual bleeding, increased susceptibility to infection.

What to Do
Call your doctor, emergency medical services (EMS), or the nearest poison control center immediately.

Drug Interactions
Inform your doctor if you are taking allopurinol, ACE inhibitors, chlorambucil, corticosteroids, cotrimoxazole, cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine, mercaptopurine, or muromonab-CD3.

Food Interactions
No known food interactions.

Disease Interactions
Caution is advised when taking azathioprine. Consult your doctor if you have any of the following: chicken pox, shingles, gout, infection, kidney or liver disease, or pancreatitis.  

 

Date Published: 04/13/2005
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