Before you begin taking a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
HEALTH CANADA ADVISORY
March 27, 2014
Health Canada has issued new restrictions concerning the use of Imuran (azathioprine). To read the full Health Canada Advisory, visit Health Canada's web site at www.hc-sc.gc.ca.
Cancer: This medication may increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer such as lymphoma (cancer of the immune cells) and skin cancer. Limit your exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet light, wear protective clothing and use sunscreen with a high protection factor.
Bleeding: This medication can decrease the number of platelets (component of the blood that helps blood to clot). Your doctor will monitor your platelet levels regularly while you are taking this medication. If you notice any unusual signs of bruising or bleeding (e.g., bleeding gums, blood in urine, dark-tarry stools), contact your doctor immediately or get immediate medical attention.
Infection: This medication reduces the number of white blood cells that fight infection in the body and can increase the risk of bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. If you notice any signs of infection (e.g., fever, chills, cough, painful urination) or any other unusual symptoms, contact your doctor. Contact your doctor immediately if you come into contact with someone who has chickenpox or shingles. Your doctor will monitor your white blood cell levels regularly while you are taking this medication.
Kidney function: Azathioprine may be cleared from the body more slowly in people with reduced kidney function. If you have reduced kidney function discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Liver disease: Azathioprine may be cleared from the body more slowly in people with liver disease. If you have liver disease discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
This medication may also cause liver problems. Your doctor will monitor for this with blood tests that assess liver function.
Pregnancy: Azathioprine can cause harm to the baby when taken by pregnant women. This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. Effective birth control should be practiced while using this medication. If you become pregnant while you are taking this medication, contact your doctor at once.
Breast-feeding: This medication may pass into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking azathioprine it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children.
Seniors: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for people over the age of 65. Discuss the risks and benefits of taking azathioprine with your doctor.