Prescription onlyLower-cost generic available

Imuran

(Azathioprine)

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Prevents organ rejection and relieves joint pain and inflammation.

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Prescription onlyLower-cost generic available

Our pharmacists’ bottom line

Imuran (Azathioprine) is an effective medication for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and transplant rejection, but comes with a heavy list of side effects.

  • Imuran (Azathioprine) has proven to be effective in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Imuran (Azathioprine) decreases the pain, stiffness, and swelling that most people have with rheumatoid arthritis.
  • You can still get vaccinated for the flu while taking Imuran (Azathioprine).
  • Drinking alcohol is okay while taking Imuran (Azathioprine).
  • Most side effects are temporary.
  • If you take Imuran (Azathioprine) for rheumatoid arthritis, you'll likely need to take additional medications to control your symptoms.
  • While taking Imuran (Azathioprine), you will have to get your blood tested once a week for the first month, every other week for the second and third month, and once every month after that.
  • Along with other side effects, your hair may begin to change color or fall out when you first start taking Imuran (Azathioprine), but this is usually temporary.
  • You'll likely have to take additional medications, like methotrexate to keep your rheumatoid arthritis in remission.

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Side effects for Imuran (Azathioprine)

From clinical trials of Imuran / Kidney transplant 

  • InfectionsInfections20% for Azathioprine vs.0% for placebo
  • Leukopenia <2500 cells/mm3Leukopenia <2500 cells/mm316% for Azathioprine vs.0% for placebo
  • White blood cell cancerWhite blood cell cancer1% for Azathioprine vs.0% for placebo

What to expect when you take Imuran (Azathioprine)

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Tips from our pharmacists
  • If you're sexually active, you and your partner should use birth control, since Imuran (Azathioprine) can cause birth defects.
  • If you take Imuran (Azathioprine) for rheumatoid arthritis, your joint damage can’t be reversed, so keep up with your physical therapy and get plenty of rest.
  • While taking Imuran (Azathioprine), your body is susceptible to infection; so be sure to wash your hands often and keep distance from with people who are sick.
  • It is typical to have some nausea when you first start taking Imuran (Azathioprine); if it's unbearable, let your doctor know.
  • Don't sun tan while taking this medication. Always use sunscreen and wear a long-sleeved shirt, pants, hat, and sunglasses.

Risks and Warnings for Imuran (Azathioprine)

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  • Long-term use of Imuran (Azathioprine) has been reported to cause skin cancer, as well as lymphoma (a cancer of the lymph nodes, which protect our bodies from infection and toxins).

    This is a black box warning. The FDA requires this warning when there is a significant risk of serious or life-threatening effects that anyone taking the drug should consider.

Means that some groups have a high risk of experiencing this side effect

Tips from pharmacists and people taking Imuran (Azathioprine)

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The FDA category for this medication is D. It is advised that you: Weigh risks vs. benefits
Pregnancy
Alcohol
  • Upsides and downsides from our pharmacists
  • Drinking alcohol is okay while taking Imuran (Azathioprine).
Kidneys & liver
  • It attacked my liver and kidneys. I developed drug induced diabetes. Everything cleared up when I was switched to cellcept.
    Age: 71
    Gender: Man
    Taken for: Myasthenia gravis
    Duration taken: A year or so
Sex
  • Tips from our pharmacists
  • If you're sexually active, you and your partner should use birth control, since Imuran (Azathioprine) can cause birth defects.