Imuran Warnings and Precautions

It's important to review precautions and warnings with Imuran prior to taking it. This includes knowing that Imuran carries an increased risk of certain types of cancers and may decrease the production of blood cells that are important for the immune system. Warnings and precautions also extend to people with certain allergies or who have taken chemotherapy medications in the past, as well as women who are pregnant.

Imuran: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking Imuran® (azathioprine) if you have:
  • Taken chemotherapy medications in the past
  • A blood disorder
  • Any infection.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
Be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all of the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Warnings and Precautions With Imuran

Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking Imuran include the following:
  • The medication can decrease the body's ability to produce blood cells, including blood cells that are important for the immune system. You should have blood tests frequently (weekly for the first month, twice a month for the next two months, and then at least monthly) to check for these problems while you are taking Imuran.
  • Imuran works by suppressing the immune system. While this is helpful for preventing kidney transplant rejection or for treating rheumatoid arthritis, it also puts you at a higher risk for infection. Your body may not be able to fight off infection as well as it should. Let your healthcare provider know if you have any signs of an infection during treatment.
  • Imuran can increase your risk of certain types of cancers, especially skin cancer or lymphomas. Let your healthcare provider know if you have any unusual skin changes or other unusual symptoms during treatment.
  • You could develop a serious brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) during Imuran treatment. PML can cause severe disability and death. Contact your healthcare provider right away if you experience problems with vision, movement, or thinking.
  • This medication can decrease sperm production in men. This is usually temporary and corrects itself once Imuran is stopped.
  • Imuran is considered a pregnancy Category D medication. This means that it is probably not safe for pregnant women, although the full risks are not known. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of using the drug while pregnant (see Imuran and Pregnancy).
  • Imuran passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Imuran and Breastfeeding).
  • Imuran can interact with certain medications (see Imuran Drug Interactions).
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