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Rheumatrex Side Effects Center
Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Rheumatrex (methotrexate) is an antimetabolite drug that is used to treat some cancers, severe skin diseases such as severe psoriasis, and to treat forms of rheumatoid arthritis. Its generic form is termed methotrexate. The drug, by interfering with folate metabolism, ultimately compromises nucleic acid production and tissue cell reproduction. Mild to moderate side effects may include stomatitis, nausea, abdominal pain, and leukopenia (low number of white cells in blood), but Rheumatrex also has many other severe side effects (see below); patients need to strictly follow prescribed doses and secure this drug from child access. Rheumatrex is supplied in 2.5 mg doses that are available in dose packs.
Dose packs are available in 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, 15, 17.5 and 20 mg packs. The dose is designed for each patient's problem and can range from about 7.5 mg per week to 30 mg per day, depending on the disease process and the doctor's judgment. This drug should not be used in pregnant or breastfeeding women. Rheumatrex has been used in children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, but most doses were individualized. Patients taking Rheumatrex should be informed about the many potential severe side effects of this drug, which can be lethal. Some of the more severe problems include GI bleeding, pancreatitis, aplastic anemia, pericarditis, pulmonary embolisms, convulsions, immunodepression, renal failure, abortion, and sudden death. Severe effects occur more frequently in patients taking the high doses of Rheumatrex.
Our Rheumatrex Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What is Patient Information in Detail?
Easy-to-read and understand detailed drug information and pill images for the patient or caregiver from Cerner Multum.
Rheumatrex in Detail - Patient Information: Side Effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Stop using methotrexate and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:
- dry cough, shortness of breath;
- diarrhea, vomiting, white patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips;
- blood in your urine or stools;
- urinating less than usual or not at all;
- fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms;
- sore throat and headache with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash;
- pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding, weakness; or
- nausea, stomach pain, low fever, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
Less serious side effects may include:
- nausea, vomiting, upset stomach;
- dizziness, tired feeling;
- bleeding of your gums; or
- blurred vision.
Read the entire detailed patient monograph for Rheumatrex (Methotrexate Tablets)
What is Prescribing information?
The FDA package insert formatted in easy-to-find categories for health professionals and clinicians.
Rheumatrex FDA Prescribing Information: Side Effects
IN GENERAL, THE INCIDENCE AND SEVERITY OF ACUTE SIDE EFFECTS ARE RELATED TO DOSE AND FREQUENCY OF ADMINISTRATION. THE MOST SERIOUS REACTIONS ARE DISCUSSED ABOVE UNDER ORGAN SYSTEM TOXICITY IN THE PRECAUTION SECTION. THAT SECTION SHOULD ALSO BE CONSULTED WHEN LOOKING FOR INFORMATION ABOUT ADVERSE REACTIONS WITH METHOTREXATE.
The most frequently reported adverse reactions include ulcerative stomatitis, leukopenia, nausea, and abdominal distress. Other frequently reported adverse effects are malaise, undue fatigue, chills and fever, dizziness and decreased resistance to infection. Other adverse reactions that have been reported with methotrexate are listed below by organ system. In the oncology setting, concomitant treatment and the underlying disease make specific attribution of a reaction to methotrexate difficult.
Blood and Lymphatic System Disorders: suppressed hematopoiesis causing anemia, aplastic anemia, pancytopenia, leukopenia, neutropenia and/or thrombocytopenia, lymphadenopathy and lymphoproliferative disorders (including reversible). Hypogammaglobulinemia has been reported rarely.
Cardiovascular: pericarditis, pericardial effusion, hypotension, and thromboembolic events (including arterial thrombosis, cerebral thrombosis, deep vein thrombosis, retinal vein thrombosis, thrombophlebitis, and pulmonary embolus).
Central Nervous System: headaches, drowsiness, blurred vision, transient blindness, speech impairment including dysarthria and aphasia, hemiparesis, paresis and convulsions have also occurred following administration of methotrexate. Following low doses, there have been occasional reports of transient subtle cognitive dysfunction, mood alteration, unusual cranial sensations, leukoencephalopathy, or encephalopathy.
Infection: There have been case reports of sometimes fatal opportunistic infections in patients receiving methotrexate therapy for neoplastic and non-neoplastic diseases. Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia was the most common opportunistic infection. There have also been reports of infections, pneumonia, sepsis, nocardiosis, histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis, herpes zoster, H. simplex hepatitis, and disseminated H. simplex.
Musculoskeletal System: stress fracture.
Skin: erythematous rashes, pruritus, urticaria, photosensitivity, pigmentary changes, alopecia, ecchymosis, telangiectasia, acne, furunculosis, erythema multiforme, toxic epidermal necrolysis, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, skin necrosis, skin ulceration, and exfoliative dermatitis.
Urogenital System: severe nephropathy or renal failure, azotemia, cystitis, hematuria; defective oogenesis or spermatogenesis, transient oligospermia, menstrual dysfunction, vaginal discharge, and gynecomastia; infertility, abortion, fetal defects.
Other rarer reactions related to or attributed to the use of methotrexate such as nodulosis, vasculitis, arthralgia/myalgia, loss of libido/impotence, diabetes, osteoporosis, sudden death, reversible lymphomas, tumor lysis syndrome, soft tissue necrosis and osteonecrosis. Anaphylactoid reactions have been reported.
Adverse Reactions in Double-Blind Rheumatoid Arthritis Studies
The approximate incidences of methotrexate attributed (ie, placebo rate subtracted) adverse reactions in 12 to 18 week double-blind studies of patients (n=128) with rheumatoid arthritis treated with low-dose oral (7.5 to 15 mg/week) pulse methotrexate, are listed below. Virtually all of these patients were on concomitant nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and some were also taking low dosages of corticosteroids. Hepatic histology was not examined in these short-term studies. (See PRECAUTIONS.)
Incidence greater than 10%: Elevated liver function tests 15%, nausea/vomiting 10%.
Incidence 3% to 10%: Stomatitis, thrombocytopenia, (platelet count less than 100,000/mm³).
Incidence 1% to 3%: Rash/pruritus/dermatitis, diarrhea, alopecia, leucopenia (WBC less than 3000/mm³), pancytopenia, dizziness.
Other less common reactions included decreased hematocrit, headache, upper respiratory infection, anorexia, arthralgias, chest pain, coughing, dysuria, eye discomfort, epistaxis, fever, infection, sweating, tinnitus, and vaginal discharge.
Adverse Reactions in Psoriasis
There are no recent placebo-controlled trials in patients with psoriasis. There are two literature reports (Roenigk, 1969 and Nyfors, 1978) describing large series (n=204, 248) of psoriasis patients treated with methotrexate. Dosages ranged up to 25 mg per week and treatment was administered for up to four years. With the exception of alopecia, photosensitivity, and “burning of skin lesions” (each 3% to 10%), the adverse reaction rates in these reports were very similar to those in the rheumatoid arthritis studies. Rarely, painful plaque erosions may appear.
Adverse Reactions in JRA Studies
The approximate incidences of adverse reactions reported in pediatric patients with JRA treated with oral, weekly doses of methotrexate (5 to 20 mg/m²/wk or 0.1 to 0.65 mg/kg/wk) were as follows (virtually all patients were receiving concomitant nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and some also were taking low doses of corticosteroids): elevated liver function tests, 14%; gastrointestinal reactions (eg, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), 11%; stomatitis, 2%; leukopenia, 2%; headache, 1.2%; alopecia, 0.5%; dizziness, 0.2%; and rash, 0.2%. Although there is experience with dosing up to 30 mg/m²/wk in JRA, the published data for doses above 20 mg/m²/wk are too limited to provide reliable estimates of adverse reaction rates.
Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Rheumatrex (Methotrexate Tablets)
Additional Rheumatrex Information
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