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All You Need To Know About Azathioprine

Today the life expectancy of humans has increased manifolds thanks to the evolution of modern medicine. 

‘A gift of Life’ as it is popularly known, organ transplant has successfully advanced and is the boon we witness in modern medicine. It is a lifesaver and has helped many to live longer. But all this comes with preparing our body to keep up with modern procedures and surgeries. Sometimes, we alter the immune system response for better benefits. It is in these critical cases drugs like Azathioprine play a vital role. 




What is Azathioprine? 

Azathioprine is a prescription-only medicine. It belongs to a class of drugs called immunosuppressants. It helps to weaken the immune system of the body, by decreasing the activity of the immune system. It is prescribed to patients who have had organ transplants, so that the immune system does not treat the newly transplanted organ as an invader and does not attack it. Azathioprine along with other medications is beneficial to prevent organ (kidney) transplant rejection (The immune system identifies the transplanted organ as a foreign body; and attacks the transplanted organ, leading to organ rejection and related complications)

It is widely prescribed to treat symptoms of severe rheumatoid arthritis (a condition in which the body attacks its own joints, causing pain, swelling, and loss of function) when other medications fail to give relief.

It is used in combination therapy, which means it can be given with other drugs for better results.

When is Azathioprine prescribed?

The main action of Azathioprine is to suppress the immune system.

It is prescribed to patients who have had an organ transplant. Azathioprine is used to prevent organ rejection in people who have received a kidney transplant. It is crucial to suppress the immune system; if the immune system attacks the transplanted kidney or organ, it could cause serious problems or even lead to death.

To allow the new kidney to function normally, Azathioprine can be taken in combination with certain other drugs. 

In the case of Rheumatoid Arthritis, the body starts an attack on the joints, causing swelling and severe pain. Azathioprine is used to block certain chemical messengers that are responsible for swelling and pain. It stops the immune system from attacking the joints. 

How to take Azathioprine?

Azathioprine has to be taken exactly as directed by the doctor. Strictly follow all directions. 

It comes in tablet form to take orally. 

It is advised to take this medication with food to reduce nausea and abdominal symptoms. 

Take Azathioprine medicine at around the same time(s) every day. 

Never take more or less of it. Do not change the dose without consulting the doctor. 

Do not increase your dose or use this drug for longer than prescribed. That will only increase the risk of severe side effects.  

Do not stop taking it unless you are directed to do so. 

Precautions before taking Azathioprine

Azathioprine needs to be taken with utmost caution. It is crucial to discuss your medical history and family history with the doctor, before starting the treatment.

Tell your doctor if you :

Have any kidney disease 

Have any severe viral, bacterial, or fungal infection 

Have a liver ailment 

Have any allergy  

Have had chemotherapy or are consuming other prescription-only medicines  

You are breast-feeding 

You are pregnant 

Azathioprine can make you susceptible to infections or may worsen any current infections. Avoid contact with people who have contagious infections like flu, measles, or chicken pox. Consult your doctor if you are exposed to an infection. 

Cuts and bruises cause infections. Use caution while handling sharp objects like razors and nail cutters, and avoid rigorous sports. 

This medication may increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Limit your time in the sun. Avoid tanning booths and sunlamps. Use sunscreen and wear protective clothing when outdoors.


Azathioprine is to be consumed only by prescription. 

Total white blood cell count and weight determine the dosage. 

The doctor decides the initial dose based on your medical condition, weight, and response to treatment. 

The doctor may start with a low dose but gradually increase it for better effectiveness. The dosage may increase after 6-8 weeks. 

Azathioprine is taken twice a day, in most cases. 

Available in 50 mg tablets, it can easily be broken in half if necessary. 

For kidney transplant patients: 

Adult Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. At first, 3 to 5 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight per day were given as a single dose.

For rheumatoid arthritis: 

Adults—The dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. At first, 1 milligram (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight per day was given as a single dose

once a day or divided into two doses. Missed a dose? Take it as soon as you can, but if the second dose is due soon, you may skip the missed dose. Never double the dose to make up for the missed one.

Brand Names of Azathioprine 

Azathioprine is widely available in the market under different brand names.

Some popular brand names are: 

Azoran (RPG Life Sciences Ltd) 

AZR (Ipca Laboratories Ltd) 

Aretha (Biocon) 

Azapure (Intas Pharmaceuticals Ltd) 

Vaprin (Zydus Cadila) 

Zymurine (Zydus Cadila 

Azoprine (Vhb Life Sciences Inc) 

Side effects of Azathioprine 

It is a prescription medicine and like all drugs, Azathioprine also comes with its fair share of side effects. In case, you experience any of the side effects, discuss them with your doctor. 

Some common side effects include 

Increased stomach irritation, and abdominal pain. 

Low count of white blood cells. 

Nausea and vomiting. 

Loss of appetite. 

Decreased resistance to infection 

Patient may develop tumours if used over a long time. 

Some allergic reactions may include 


Chest tightness 

Swelling up of body parts 

Some severe side effects 


Low blood pressure 

Skin rash 



Muscle pain 

If you experience any of the above-mentioned, side effects call your doctor immediately. 

How do you know that Azathioprine is the drug for you? 

Modern medical advances are the answer to this question too.  

Today genetic testing plays a decisive role in determining your health future. Traditionally, doctors would opt for the trial-and-error method to determine the best choice of drug for you. Today, with genetic testing, it is possible to identify the most effective drug for you, that would suit you the best. 

Indus Health Plus offers easy and affordable genetic testing, known as the MEDNAwise test.  

MEDNAwise, A better future for everyone! 

This powerful genetic test evaluates your specific DNA and tells the doctors the drugs that best suit your unique self. MEDNAwise can predict your genetic response to 70+ drugs used in different medical specialties, including Azathioprine. In crucial cases like a kidney transplant, it is imperative to start the treatment with the most effective drug. MEDNAwise can help doctors take that decision.   

MEDNAwise is a remarkable test that helps you to know your risks for, critical diseases in advance. Armed, with this you can take the precautionary steps by altering your lifestyle and starting with medicines to avoid future medical emergencies. It comes with counselling sessions with genetic counsellors who can guide you on diet and further health plans. 

Thousands of people have taken this revolutionary MEDNAwise genetic test, for better health and lifestyle. What is stopping you? Make your health your top priority, take the MEDNAwise genetic test today! 


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