Azathioprine

Uses of azathioprine

Azathioprine is a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD). This medicine helps in lowering the body’s immune system when it turns overactive in certain conditions.

Use of azathioprine helps in modifying the immune system action such that there is reduction in tissue damage and disability. Azathioprine is a long-term treatment, thus, it will take as long as 6 to 12 weeks before the medicine shows effect.

Azathioprine is used to treat conditions such as:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Polymyositis
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Other autoimmune conditions
  • Other inflammatory diseases

Some other uses of azathioprine also include treatment of ulcerative colitis as well as Crohn’s disease.

How to Use azathioprine

Azathiprine is available in form of a tablet that can be taken orally. It can taken once or twice a day after meals. You need to take azathioprine at the same time daily. Never take more or less than prescribed dose of the medication.

Dosage of azathioprine

The doctor may begin with low-dose of the azathioprine for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The dose may be increased after 6 to 8 weeks. This dose may be altered every 4 weeks. Once the condition is under control, the doctor may  reduce the dose.
The same is followed for kidney transplant patients who need to take azathioprine for helping the body adjust to transplant.  High dose initially and then gradually reduction in dose as the body starts accepting the transplanted organ positively.

Special instruction for azathioprine

Azathioprine is prescription drug that needs to be prescribed by a specialized doctor. As it is an immunosuppressant, it reduces the body’s natural defense system. Thus, stay away from people who are sick around you. This will cause you to catch their infections very easily.
Do not use azathioprine if you are pregnant and are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Speak to your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant before using azathioprine. The drug has shown to cause harm to the unborn baby. It can also be passed in breast milk, thus, do not breastfeed when using azathioprine.