Azathioprine (Injection)

Introduction

Azathioprine (ay-za-THYE-oh-preen)

Prevents your body from rejecting a kidney transplant. This medicine also reduces joint pain in severe rheumatoid arthritis.

Brand Name(s)

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

You should not receive this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to azathioprine, or if you are pregnant. You should not use azathioprine if you have received other medicines such as cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan®, Neosar®), chlorambucil (Leukeran®), or melphalan (Alkeran®) to treat your arthritis.

How to Use This Medicine

Injectable

  • Your doctor will prescribe your exact dose and tell you how often it should be given. This medicine is given through a needle placed in one of your veins.
  • A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine.
  • For kidney transplants, this medicine is usually given as a single dose just before transplantation. For rheumatoid arthritis, the medicine is usually given daily.
  • You may be taught how to give your medicine at home. Make sure you understand all instructions before giving yourself an injection. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • Use a new needle and syringe each time you inject your medicine.

If a dose is missed:

  • This medicine needs to be given on a fixed schedule. If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, call your doctor or pharmacist for instructions.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • If you store this medicine at home, keep it at room temperature, away from heat and direct light.
  • Throw away used needles in a hard, closed container that the needles cannot poke through. Keep this container away from children and pets.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any leftover medicine, containers, and other supplies. You will also need to throw away old medicine after the expiration date has passed.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.

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 using allopurinol (Aloprim®, Zyloprim®), cotrimoxazole (Bactrim®, Cotrim®, Septra®), mesalamine (Asacol®, Rowasa®), olsalazine (Dipentum®), sulfasalazine (Azulfidine®), or medicines that may weaken the immune system such as steroids (methylprednisolone, prednisone, Medrol®).
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are using a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin®), or blood pressure medicines such as captopril, enalapril, lisinopril, Accupril®, Lotensin®, Lotrel®, Prinivil®, Zestoretic®, Vasotec®, or Zestril®.
  • Talk to your doctor before getting flu shots or other vaccines while you are receiving this medicine. Vaccines may not work as well, or they could make you ill while you are using this medicine.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are breastfeeding, or if you have liver disease, kidney disease, or any type of infection.
  • You should not use this medicine if you are also taking mercaptopurine (Purinethol®). Using these medicines together could cause serious health problems.
  • Your doctor will need to check your blood at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.
  • This medicine lowers the number of some types of blood cells in your body. Because of this, you may get infections more easily. To help with these problems, avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Wash your hands often.
  • This medicine may increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer. Talk with your doctor about how this risk will affect you.

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.
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches.
  • Severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • 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:

  • Mild skin rash or itching.
  • Hair loss.
  • Joint 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

Review Date: 2011-02-04 Reviewed By: Keywords: ,
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