Mercaptopurine is a medication used in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis and other autoimmune diseases. It belongs to a class of drugs known as immunosuppressants. It works by interfering with the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA) production. By interfering with DNA and RNA, Mercaptopurine reduces the activity of the immune system.
You may experience the following side effects while on Mercaptopurine. Tell your doctor if you encounter any of them so that adjustments to your therapy may be made to reduce the occurrence of these side effects where possible. These include
Please inform your doctor if you experience any other side effects or if the side effects become severe and bothersome.
There are some rare but potentially serious side effects that may be experienced when you using Mercaptopurine. These include:
Stop using Mercaptopurine and inform your doctor immediately if you experience any of the potentially serious side effects.
Do not give your child or yourself any other medications or herbal products without consulting your doctor or pharmacist. Some medication or food may reduce its efficacy, or increase incidence of side effects where close monitoring is required. These include:
Mercaptopurine should preferably be taken at the same time every day.
Mercaptopurine is available in tablet form.
To maximise absorption of Mercaptopurine, it should be taken orally ONCE daily on empty stomach, i.e. either 1 hour before or 2 hours after food. However, if you do experience stomach discomfort while taking Mercaptopurine, you may take it with food. Please inform your pharmacist or doctor if you are doing so.
Do not stop taking Mercaptopurine unless you are told to do so by your doctor. Do not take more or less than required unless instructed.
Drugs commonly co-administered with mercaptopurine:
Disclaimer: The list is not exhaustive, if in doubt, do inform your doctor or pharmacist especially if you are on any other medication or supplements when you are prescribed Mercaptopurine.
If you forget a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is nearer to the time of your next dose, skip the missed dose. Do not take two doses at the same time.
To minimise drug exposure to other members of the family, the following methods of administration are recommended:
Refer to the "Safe Handling of Oral Cytotoxic Medications and Caution Medications" PIL for more information.
You are advised to bring Mercaptopurine to the pharmacy for proper disposal if you are to stop the drug permanently.
Compliance to follow up visits
While taking Mercaptopurine, you should be seeing your specialist doctor regularly to ensure that your treatment is optimized and to address any concerns relating to your treatment.
Regular laboratory tests may be conducted as directed by your doctor.
Supply of Drugs
You are advised not to purchase more Mercaptopurine than required before your next visit in case of dose changes or discontinuation of therapy.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, extra precaution should be taken when handling Mercaptopurine as it may cause harm to the developing foetus or baby.
Do not give Mercaptopurine to anyone else. It has been prescribed for a specific condition, may not be the correct treatment for another person, and would be dangerous if the other person is pregnant or breastfeeding.