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Azathioprine is classified as an antimetabolite. Azathioprine works within the immune system by decreasing the impact particular cells may have on the body. This custom drug is primarily used to aid in preventing kidney rejection after transplant and to decrease the symptoms and/or signs of rheumatoid arthritis.

How to Use Azathioprine

Use azathioprine only as directed by your physician. This drug is taken orally, once or twice a day as directed, after a meal. It is important to take azathioprine as consistently at the same time daily as possible. If your physician has prescribed azathioprine, consult with your compounding pharmacist if you have any follow up questions during the course.

Possible Side Effects

Side effects can occur. The following is a partial list of some common side effects that have been experienced by patients taking azathioprine:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Infections

If any of the above do not go away or seem to be worsening, contact your physician right away. Azathioprine may contribute to a low white blood cell count in some patients taking the drug. If you become aware through testing or otherwise that your white blood cell count is low, or lowered, contact your physician immediately. Watch for signs of a serious allergic reaction such as swelling of the face, tongue, or throat, difficulty breathing, or other allergic reaction. If you experience any signs of serious allergic reaction, seek medical treatment immediately. Serious Side Effects: As there are a number of potentially serious side effects that can occur it is important for all patients to have a full medical consultation and review with their physician before beginning usage of azathioprine. Ask your physician to discuss all common side effects and all potentially serious side effects with you before you begin taking azathioprine and you will be then know what to watch for. As always, seek immediate medical attention or call 911 for emergency services if you feel you are having a medical emergency.


Use of azathioprine is contraindicated for anyone with any of the following conditions:

  • Decreased Blood Platelets
  • Severe Anemia
  • Severe Infection
  • Acute Inflammation of the Pancreas
  • Severe Decrease in White Blood Cells
  • Malignant Lymphoma
  • Hepatosplenic T-cell Lymphoma
  • Pregnancy
  • Kidney Impairment
  • A Blood Clot in a Vein of the Liver
  • Thiopurine S-Methyltransferase Deficiency
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