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Azathioprine (By injection)

Azathioprine Sodium (ay-za-THYE-oh-preen SOE-dee-um)

Prevents rejection of a transplanted kidney by suppressing the immune system. Also treats rheumatoid arthritis.

Brand Name(s):

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

This medicine is not right for everyone. You should not receive this medicine if you had an allergic reaction to azathioprine, or if you are pregnant.

How to Use This Medicine:

Injectable

  • 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.

  • Do not use this medicine if you have received other medicines for arthritis in the past, including chlorambucil, cyclophosphamide, or melphalan.
  • Some medicines can affect how azathioprine works. Tell your doctor if you are also using allopurinol, cotrimoxazole, febuxostat, mercaptopurine, mesalamine, olsalazine, ribavirin, sulfasalazine, a blood pressure medicine (including ACE inhibitors), or a blood thinner (including warfarin).

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.
  • Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding, or if you have kidney disease, liver disease, stomach or bowel problems (including Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis), blood or bone marrow problems, or any type of infection.
  • This medicine may cause the following problems:
    • Increased risk of cancer (including skin cancer, solid tumors, leukemia, or lymphoma)
    • Increased risk of infection, including progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML)
    • Serious bowel allergic reactions
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 when you are outdoors. Wear protective clothing and hats, and stay out of direct sunlight between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm Avoid sunlamps and tanning beds.
  • This medicine may make you bleed, bruise, or get infections more easily. Take precautions to prevent illness and injury. Wash your hands often.
  • 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
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, body aches
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
  • Severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Sores on the skin, swollen glands, abnormal skin growths
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Hair loss
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Pain, itching, burning, swelling, or a lump under your skin where the needle is placed
  • 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


Last Updated: 3/19/2020

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites.

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