Azathioprine Sodium (ay-za-THYE-oh-preen SOE-dee-um)
Prevents rejection of a kidney after a transplant by suppressing the immune system. Also treats rheumatoid arthritis.
When This Medicine Should Not Be Used
How to Use This Medicine
- Your doctor will prescribe your dose and schedule. This medicine is given through a needle placed in a vein.
- A nurse or other health provider will give you this medicine.
- Your doctor will give you a few doses of this medicine until your condition improves, and then switch you to an oral medicine that works the same way. If you have any questions about this, talk to your doctor.
Drugs and Foods to Avoid
Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.
- Do not use this medicine if you have received other medicines for arthritis in the past, such as chlorambucil, cyclophosphamide, or melphalan.
- Some medicines can affect how azathioprine works. Tell your doctor if you are also using allopurinol, cotrimoxazole, mercaptopurine, mesalamine, olsalazine, ribavirin, sulfasalazine, a blood thinner (such as warfarin), or blood pressure medicines (ACE inhibitors).
- This medicine may interfere with vaccines. Ask your doctor before you get a flu shot or any other vaccines.
Warnings While Using This Medicine
- It is not safe to take this medicine during pregnancy. It could harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant.
- Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding, or if you have kidney disease, Crohn disease or bowel problems, blood or bone marrow problems (such as anemia, low white blood cells, or low platelets in the blood), or any type of infection.
- This medicine may cause the following problems:
- Higher risk of skin cancer or lymphoma
- Higher risk of infection, including progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML)
- Serious intestinal allergic reactions
- Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 when you are outdoors. Wear protective clothing and hats, and stay out of direct sunlight between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Avoid sunlamps and tanning beds.
- This medicine may make you bleed, bruise, or get infections more easily. Take precautions to prevent illness and injury. Wash your hands often.
- Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.
Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine
Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:
- Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
- Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches
- Lightheadedness or fainting
- Severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Sores on the skin
- Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness
If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:
- Hair loss
- Joint or muscle pain
- Sores or white patches on your lips, mouth, or throat
If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088
- Last reviewed on 12/4/2015
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