Azathioprine Sodium (ay-za-THYE-oh-preen SOE-dee-um)
Prevents your body from rejecting a kidney transplant. Also treats joint pain and swelling from rheumatoid arthritis. This medicine is an immunosuppressant agent that will affect your immune system.
There may be other brand names for this medicine.
When This Medicine Should Not Be Used
You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to azathioprine, or if you are pregnant. You should not use this medicine if you have received other medicines for arthritis in the past such as chlorambucil (Leukeran®), cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan®, Neosar®), or melphalan (Alkeran®).
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.
- Tell your doctor if you are also using allopurinol (Aloprim®, Zyloprim®), cotrimoxazole (Bactrim®, Cotrim®, Septra®), mesalamine (Asacol®, Rowasa®), olsalazine (Dipentum®), ribavirin (Copegus®, Rebetol®), or sulfasalazine (Azulfidine®). Make sure your doctor knows if you are using a blood thinner (such as warfarin, Coumadin®) or certain blood pressure medicines (such as captopril, enalapril, lisinopril, Accupril®, Lotensin®, Lotrel®, Prinivil®, Vasotec®, Zestoretic®, or Zestril®).
- 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.
- Make sure your doctor knows if you are breastfeeding, or if you have kidney disease, bowel problems (such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea), blood or bone marrow problems (such as anemia, low white blood cells, or low platelets in the blood), or any type of infection.
- Do not use this medicine if you are also taking mercaptopurine (Purinethol®). Using these medicines together could cause serious unwanted effects.
- This medicine may make you bleed, bruise, or get infections more easily. Take precautions to prevent illness and injury. Avoid people who are ill, and wash your hands often. Brush and floss your teeth gently, do not play rough sports, and be careful with sharp objects.
- This medicine may increase your risk of getting certain types of cancer, especially of the skin, lymph system (lymphoma), or blood (leukemia). Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about this risk.
- Use sunscreen or sunblock lotions with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 on a regular basis 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.
- Check with your doctor right away if you have more than one of these symptoms while you are using this medicine: severe nausea or vomiting; diarrhea; fever; rash; a general feeling of discomfort or illness; muscle or joint pain; lightheadedness or dizziness; or unusual tiredness or weakness. These could be symptoms of a serious reaction to the medicine in your bowel (intestine).
- 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
- Dark-colored urine or pale stools.
- Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches.
- Lightheadedness or fainting.
- Severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
- Shortness of breath or troubled breathing.
- Sores on the skin.
- Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness.
- Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.
If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:
- Hair loss.
- Joint or muscle pain.
- Mild skin rash or itching.
- Sores or white patches on your lips, mouth, or throat.