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Azathioprine is a mercaptopurine derivative which has cytotoxic and immunosuppressive effects.

The main uses of azathioprine include:

  • the treatment of leukaemia
  • to prevent rejection of transplanted organs
  • in the treatment of active progressive rheumatoid arthritis

Azathioprine is metabolised to mercaptopurine and then to thioinosinate which interferes with purine metabolism.

Mercaptopurine interacts with allopurinol. The dose of azathioprine should be reduced if allopurinol is prescribed simultaneously.

The most common side-effects of azathioprine are myelosuppression and hepatotoxicity.

The summary of product characteristics should be consulted before prescribing this drug.

Last reviewed 01/2018