Arthritis Home > Imuran

Imuran is approved to prevent organ rejection after a kidney transplant and to reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Although it is not entirely clear how the medication works, it is believed to work mostly by suppressing the immune system and damaging cells' DNA. The drug comes in tablet form and is taken once or twice a day. Potential side effects of Imuran include infections, nausea, and vomiting.

What Is Imuran?

Imuran® (azathioprine) is a prescription medication that is approved for the following uses:
  • To be used along with other medications to prevent organ rejection after a kidney transplant
  • To reduce the signs and symptoms of active rheumatoid arthritis.
(Click Imuran Uses for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes Imuran?

It is made by Prometheus Laboratories.

How Does It Work?

It is not known exactly how Imuran works to prevent kidney transplant rejection or to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Imuran acts in a way similar to certain types of chemotherapy medications, killing cells by damaging DNA. Also, much like chemotherapy medications, Imuran suppresses the immune system (it is thought that the medication works mostly by suppressing the immune system). The immune system is responsible for rejecting transplanted organs, and an overactive immune system plays an important role in rheumatoid arthritis.

When and How to Take Imuran

General considerations for when and how to take Imuran include the following:
  • The medication comes in tablet form. It is usually taken by mouth once or twice a day.
  • You can take it with or without food. If the medication bothers your stomach, try taking it with food.
  • The medication should be taken at the same time(s) each day to maintain an even level in your blood.
  • For Imuran to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. The medication will not work if you stop taking it.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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