AZATHIOPRINE - Watsons Health





Description: Azathioprine is an immunosuppresant used to prevent rejection of a kidney transplant.

Azathioprine is used to prevent rejection of a kidney transplant, by weakening the body’s defense system (immune system) to help your body accept the new kidney as if it were your own. It is also used to treat patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis who have not responded to other medications (e.g., nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs/NSAIDs such as ibuprofen). It may also be used to prevent rejection of other transplanted organs, to treat certain types of bowel conditions (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis) that is not responsive to usual treatment, and to treat other immune system problems (autoimmune diseases) as determined by your doctor.

How to use Azathioprine

Take by mouth, usually once or twice daily. Take with food to reduce stomach upset. For the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, the manufacturer recommends that you do not take more than 2.5 milligrams per kilogram per day.

Follow the prescribed dose. Do not take more or less than prescribed to achieve best treatment outcome.

For arthritis, it may take up to 2 months of continued use to notice relief of symptoms. If your condition does not improve after 3 months of treatment, inform your doctor.

Women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not handle or break the tablets of this medication as it may cause harm to the unborn fetus.

There is an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer such as skin cancer and lymphoma if this drug is used for a long time. It may also cause serious blood disorders (decreased bone marrow function leading to anemia, low number of white blood cells and platelets) and lower your body’s ability to fight an infection.

Tell your doctor immediately if you develop any of the following signs: unusual skin changes, change in the appearance/size of moles, unusual growths/lumps, swollen glands, swollen or painful abdomen, unexplained weight loss, night sweats, unexplained itching, signs of infection (e.g., fever, persistent sore throat), easy bruising/bleeding, or unusual tiredness.

Side effects range from mild to serious.  Consult your doctor if you feel the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite, fever, shaking chills, rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing, cough, new or worsening joint/muscle aches, dark urine, muscle loss, hair loss, cold/numbness in the fingers, mouth sores, difficult/painful swallowing, greasy stools, yellowing eyes/skin, swelling/extra fluid around the abdomen, vomit that contains blood or looks like coffee grounds, black stools, brain infection (progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy-PML),  clumsiness, loss of coordination, weakness, sudden change in your thinking (such as confusion, difficulty concentrating), difficulty moving your muscles, problems with speech, seizure, vision changes.

Contact your doctor if you experience allergic reactions (rash, itching, swelling of the face/throat, trouble breathing) or symptoms mentioned above.


Inform your doctor of your allergies, including food and drug allergies, the medications you are currently taking and your medical history, especially of: kidney disease, liver disease, blood disorders, decreased bone marrow function, history of cancer (such as lymphoma), active infections, certain enzyme disorder (TPMT deficiency).

You should not have immunizations/vaccinations without the consent of your doctor, and avoid contact with people who have recently received polio vaccine by mouth or flu vaccine inhaled through the nose.  Avoid getting cut, bruised, or injured.

The elderly may be more sensitive to the effects of this drug.

Stay away from this drug if you are pregnant, planning to get pregnant soon, suspecting pregnancy, because this medication may harm an unborn fetus.  Likewise, breastfeeding mothers must avoid this drug as it may harm the baby.



Some products that may interact with this drug include: ACE inhibitors (e.g., benazepril, lisinopril), allopurinol, aminosalicylates (e.g., mesalamine, olsalazine, sulfasalazine), “blood thinners” (e.g., enoxaparin, heparin, warfarin), drugs affecting the bone marrow (e.g., trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, cancer chemotherapy drugs), febuxostat, past or present use of alkylating-type cancer drugs (e.g., chlorambucil, cyclophosphamide, melphalan), other drugs that weaken the immune system/increase the risk of infection (such as rituximab, tofacitinib).

Do not use medications containing mercaptopurine while using azathioprine.


Seek emergency medical help immediately if overdose is suspected.

Missed Dose: Take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.

Storage: Store at room temperature, away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medicines away from children and pets. Do not freeze this medication. Do not flush in the toilet or drain the sink, discard drug properly.



Available Brands

  • Imuran [ Aspen ]

Also marketed as

  • Pharmachemie Azathioprine [ Pharmachemie ]
  • Renzat [ Korea United Pharma ]

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