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What is Imuran®?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated May 17, 2024
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Imuran® is a brand name for the generic medication azathioprine. This drug is prescribed to kidney transplant patients to prevent their bodies from rejecting the transplant. Some people may also take it to relieve pain and swelling from rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It is classified as an immunosuppressant drug, which means that it works by suppressing the patient's immune system.

This drug is typically taken either once or twice daily after a meal. Patients who take Imuran® for rheumatoid arthritis may start on a low dosage and gradually increase it after one and a half to two months. In contrast, kidney transplant patients will start on a high dosage. The doctor may be able to gradually decrease it, as the patient's body acclimates to the transplant. It is essential for the patient to avoid skipping doses, as transplant rejection can occur if the drug is discontinued.

Imuran® may cause some side effects. Patients may suffer from nausea and vomiting, as well as diarrhea and muscle aches. The doctor should be informed if these side effects become bothersome or do not go away. Other side effects can be serious and may require a doctor's immediate care. These can include loss of appetite, lack of energy, stomach pain, persistent cough, blurred vision, and mouth sores. Patients may notice flu-like symptoms, such as a fever and chills. A rash, jaundice, and stomach pain, especially in the upper right area of the stomach, have also been reported.

Those taking Imuran® should be aware that long-term use of this medication may be associated with some cancers, such as lymphoma or skin cancers. It may also lead to blood disorders, such as anemia. Patients should be alert to any unusual skin changes, such as changes in the size or appearance of moles, swollen glands, or lumps or growths. Other possible signs of a serious complication may include unexplained weight loss and night sweats.

Immunosuppressants will decrease the ability of the immune system to fight off infections. Patients taking the medication should avoid contact with sick individuals. They should also not have any vaccinations without approval from the prescribing physician. People who plan to undergo surgery, including dental surgery, should notify the surgeon that they are taking Imuran®.

Before prescribing Imuran®, the doctor should be aware of any other medical conditions the patient has. This drug may not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, because it can cause birth defects or harm to a nursing infant. In addition, Imuran® may interact with other drugs, such as blood thinners, chemotherapy medications, and gold compounds.

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