Common Brand Name(s): Imuran
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 may rarely increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer (such as lymphoma, skin cancer). 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). Keep all medical and lab appointments. Tell your doctor right away if you develop any of the following symptoms: unusual skin changes, change in the appearance/size of moles, unusual growths/lumps, swollen lymph nodes, swollen abdomen, unexplained weight loss, night sweats.
This medication may decrease bone marrow function, an effect that may lead to a low number of blood cells such as red cells, white cells, and platelets. This effect can cause anemia, decrease your body's ability to fight an infection, or cause easy bruising/bleeding. Tell your doctor right away if you develop any of the following symptoms: unusual tiredness, pale skin, signs of infection (such as sore throat that doesn't go away, fever, chills), easy bruising/bleeding.
Azathioprine is used to prevent organ rejection in people who have received a kidney transplant. It is usually used along with other medications to allow your new kidney to function normally. Azathioprine is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. In this condition, the body's defense system (immune system) attacks healthy joints. Azathioprine belongs to a class of drugs known as immunosuppressants. It works by weakening the immune system to help your body accept the new kidney as if it were your own (in the case of an organ transplant) or to prevent further damage to your joints (in the case of rheumatoid arthritis).
This medication is given by injection until you are able to take azathioprine by mouth.
Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of azathioprine, especially when used in children and young adults.
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 drug may also be used to reduce the risk of rejection of other transplanted organs. It may also be used for certain types of bowel conditions (Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis), and other immune system problems.
How To Use
This medication is given by injection into a vein by a health care professional. It is given as directed by your doctor, usually once or twice a day.
The dosage is based on your medical condition, weight, and response to treatment.
Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, use it at the same time(s) each day.
For the treatment of arthritis, it may take up to 2 months before your symptoms get better. Tell your doctor if your condition does not get better after 3 months of treatment.
See also Warning section.
Nausea or vomiting may occur. Giving this medication after meals may help lessen these effects. Temporary hair loss may also occur. If any of these effects last or get worse, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
People using this medication may have serious side effects. However, your doctor has prescribed this drug because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Careful monitoring by your doctor may decrease your risk.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including:
- new or worsening joint/muscle pain
Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including:
- symptoms of liver disease (such as nausea/vomiting that doesn't stop, stomach/abdominal pain, dark urine, yellowing eyes/skin)
This medication may increase your risk of getting a rare but very serious (possibly fatal) brain infection (progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy-PML). Get medical help right away if you have any of these side effects:
- loss of coordination/balance
- sudden change in your thinking (such as confusion, difficulty concentrating, memory loss)
- difficulty talking/walking
- vision changes
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including:
- itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat)
- severe dizziness
- trouble breathing
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US -
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before using azathioprine, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to mercaptopurine; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of:
- kidney disease
- liver disease
- certain enzyme disorders (TPMT deficiency, NUDT15 deficiency)
This medication may increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Limit your time in the sun. Avoid tanning booths and sunlamps. Use sunscreen and wear protective clothing when outdoors. Your doctor may direct you to avoid phototherapy while you use this product. Ask your doctor for details.
Azathioprine can make you more likely to get infections or may worsen any current infections. Avoid contact with people who have infections that may spread to others (such as chickenpox, measles, flu). Consult your doctor if you have been exposed to an infection or for more details.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Do not have immunizations/vaccinations without the consent of your doctor. Avoid contact with people who have recently received live vaccines (such as flu vaccine inhaled through the nose).
To lower the chance of getting cut, bruised, or injured, use caution with sharp objects like razors and nail cutters, and avoid activities such as contact sports.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You should not become pregnant while using azathioprine. Azathioprine may harm an unborn baby. Ask about reliable forms of birth control while using this medication. If you become pregnant, talk to your doctor right away about the risks and benefits of this medication.
This medication passes into breast milk and may have undesirable effects on a nursing infant. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
Some products that may interact with this drug are:
- past or present use of certain cancer drugs (such as cyclophosphamide, melphalan)
- other drugs that weaken the immune system/increase the risk of infection (such as rituximab, tofacitinib)
Azathioprine is very similar to mercaptopurine. Do not use medications containing mercaptopurine while using azathioprine.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
Lab and/or medical tests (such as complete blood count, liver/kidney function) should be done while you are using this medication. Keep all medical and lab appointments. Consult your doctor for more details.
If you have had an organ transplant, attend a transplant education class or support group. Learn the symptoms of organ rejection such as a feeling of being ill, fever, pain around the transplanted organ, and the signs of a failing transplanted organ (a decrease in the amount of urine with kidney transplant). Get medical help right away if these symptoms occur.
For the best possible benefit, it is important to receive each scheduled dose of this medication as directed. If you miss a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist right away to establish a new dosing schedule.
Not applicable. This medication is given in a hospital or clinic and will not be stored at home.
Your condition can cause complications in a medical emergency. For information about enrolling in MedicAlert, call 1-888-633-4298 (US) or 1-800-668-1507 (Canada).
Information last revised December 2018.
Copyright(c) 2018 First Databank, Inc.
Conditions of use: The information in this database is intended to supplement, not substitute for the expertise and judgment of healthcare professionals. The information in not intend to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions or adverse effects nor should it be construed in indicate that use of a particular drug is safe, appropriate or effective for you or anyone else. A healthcare professional should be consulted before taking any drug, changing any diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment.