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IMPORTANT: HOW TO USE THIS INFORMATION: This is a summary and does NOT have all possible information about this product. This information does not assure that this product is safe, effective, or appropriate for you. This information is not individual medical advice and does not substitute for the advice of your health care professional. Always ask your health care professional for complete information about this product and your specific health needs.
AZATHIOPRINE - ORAL
COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Imuran
WARNING: Long-term use of azathioprine may infrequently increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer (e.g., skin cancer, lymphoma). This risk is higher in people using azathioprine after an organ transplant and in children/young adults being treated for certain bowel diseases (such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis). You must be closely monitored by your doctor during treatment and regularly afterwards if your doctor stops treatment with this medication.
Azathioprine may also cause serious (rarely fatal) blood disorders (decreased bone marrow function leading to anemia, low number of white blood cells and platelets). It can lower your body's ability to fight an infection.
Keep all medical and laboratory appointments. Tell your doctor immediately if you develop any of the following signs: unusual skin changes, change in the appearance/size of moles, unusual growths/lumps, swollen glands, swollen or painful abdomen, unexplained weight loss, night sweats, unexplained itching, signs of infection (e.g., fever, persistent sore throat), easy bruising/bleeding, or unusual tiredness.
USES: Azathioprine is used with other medications to prevent rejection of a kidney transplant. It works by weakening your body's defense system (immune system) to help your body accept the new kidney as if it were your own. This medication belongs to a class of drugs known as immunosuppressants.
Azathioprine is also used to treat patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis who have not responded to other medications (e.g., nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs/NSAIDs such as ibuprofen). Rheumatoid arthritis is thought to be caused by the immune system attacking the joints. Early treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with more aggressive therapy such as azathioprine helps to reduce further joint damage and to preserve joint function.
Talk to the doctor about the risks and benefits of azathioprine, especially when used in children and young adults.
OTHER USES: This section contains uses of this drug that are not listed in the approved professional labeling for the drug but that may be prescribed by your health care professional. Use this drug for a condition that is listed in this section only if it has been so prescribed by your health care professional.
This medication may also be used to prevent rejection of other transplanted organs, to treat certain types of bowel conditions (Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis) that is not responsive to usual treatment, and to treat other immune system problems (autoimmune diseases) as determined by your doctor.
HOW TO USE: Take this medication by mouth, usually once or twice daily as directed by your doctor. Azathioprine should be taken with food to reduce stomach upset. Dosage is based on your medical condition, weight, and response to therapy. For the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, the manufacturer recommends that you do not take more than 2.5 milligrams per kilogram per day.
Do not increase your dose or take this medication more often without your doctor's approval. Your condition will not improve any faster and the risk of serious side effects may be increased. Also do not stop taking this medication without your doctor's approval.
Use this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. Remember to use it at the same time(s) each day.
For arthritis, it may take up to 2 months of continued use to notice relief of symptoms. Inform your doctor if your condition does not improve after 3 months of treatment.
Since this drug can be absorbed through the skin, women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not handle or break the tablets of this medication.
Additional Imuran Information
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