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Imuran (Azathioprine)

Imuran (Azathioprine) is a medication that suppresses the immune system. It is a Disease-Modifying AntiRheumatic Drug (DMARD) and belongs to a class of chemicals called purine analogues.

Imuran has been in use since the 1950s. It was originally developed to treat certain forms of cancer but has proven useful in treating numerous autoimmune disorders, as well as preventing organ rejection in transplant patients.

Rheumatologists use Imuran to treat (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus), as well as other types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases.

Taking Imuran

Imuran is available in 50 mg tablets. The usual starting dose is 50 to 100 mg per day (1 to 2 tablets). The maintenance dose is based on body weight. The standard dose ranges from two tablets (100 mg) to four tablets (200 mg). Imuran can be taken once or twice a day, as prescribed by a doctor.

It takes 6 to 12 weeks for Imuran to start working. The maximum effect can take up to 6 months. If a doctor changes the dose, it can take another 8 to 12 weeks to feel the effects. It is important for patients starting this medicine to be patient and continue taking it as prescribed.

Taking Imuran with food can help reduce possible stomach upset.

Important Tests and Risks

Patients taking Imuran should have their blood tested regularly (usually every 1 to 3 months as advised by their doctor). It is important to make sure the medication is having no harmful effects on the liver, bone marrow, or blood counts.

Drinking alcohol while taking Imuran can harm the liver. Patients are advised to stop drinking alcohol, or at the very least, significantly limit their alcohol consumption.

Imuran can make it a bit harder for people to fight off infections. People taking this medicine should call their doctor they have a fever, think they have an infection, or have been prescribed antibiotics to treat an infection.

Patients should coordinate with their doctor to stop treatment before any surgery. It can be re-started once things have healed and there’s no sign of infection.

Patients should discuss all vaccinations with their doctor because some are not advisable to get while taking Imuran.

Gout medications Zyloprim (allopurinol) and Uloric (febuxostat) can interact with Imuran. Patients taking Imuran should tell their doctor if they are also taking Zyloprim or Uloric.