Imuran (Azathioprine) and/or alternatives
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General Information On Imuran
An immunosuppressant, Imuran is used to prevent rejection of a kidney transplant and for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. This drug, like other immunosuppressants, works by suppressing the growth of T and B lymphocytes, which are essential parts of our immune system and provide protection from foreign materials and infectious diseases.
A patient who undergoes kidney transplant is prescribed this medicine so that his/her body accepts the kidney as his/her own. In other words, this medicine allows the body to immunologically accept the new organ. Rheumatoid arthritis patients who do not respond well to other medications are also asked by their doctor to buy Imuran and use it. Although the exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, it is widely believed that abnormal autoimmune response is one of the many factors that trigger this condition. As this drug lowers patient’s immune system, it helps in preventing further joint damage and preserving joint function in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
Side Effects for Imuran
Common and less serious side effects of this drug include: skin rash, nausea, mild stomach upset, or diarrhea. Some patients who buy Imuran may also experience loss of appetite during the first few days of treatment. You should contact your doctor if you continue to experience loss of appetite or any other aforementioned symptoms or if any of these symptoms become worse.
You should immediately stop the medication and call your doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms: easy bruising/bleeding, fever, sore throat, severe or persistent nausea, severe or persistent vomiting, diarrhea, severe stomach pain, burning sensation or pain while urinating, dark-colored urine, or black/tarry stools.
Although a very serious allergic reaction to this drug is highly unlikely, you must watch out for these symptoms: trouble breathing, hives, or itching/swelling (especially of face, throat, or tongue). In case you notice any symptoms of an allergic reaction then immediately stop the medication and seek medical help.
You should not use this drug if you are allergic to Azathioprine (generic name of this drug) or if you have: any type of fungal, viral, or bacterial infection, liver disease, or have received chemotherapy treatments. It is essential that you discuss your medical history with your doctor before using this medicine.
Pregnant women or women who plan to become pregnant while on the treatment should not use this medicine as it can harm an unborn child. Nursing mothers should not use this medicine, unless directed by their doctor.
You should take Imuran as directed by your doctor. To lessen the stomach upset—a common side effect of this drug—you may take this medication with food.
Before you start using this medication, tell your doctor about the medications you are currently taking, especially if you are using any of the following: trimethoprim (Septra, Proloprim, Bactrim, and others), sulfamethoxasole, methotrexate (e.g. Immunex), cyclosporine (e.g. Sandimmune), allopurinol, warfarin, mercaptopurine, or an ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitor (such as ramipril, moexipril, perindopril, trandolapril, benazepril, captopril, quinapril, or fosinopril).
As this medication may interact with other drugs that are not mentioned in the list above, you must tell your doctor about all prescribed medicines, over-the-counter drugs, and herbal medicines that you are taking. This knowledge will help your doctor in determining if this drug is safe for you or not.
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What is a "Generic" medication/drug?
Generic drugs are medications that have comparable medicinal ingredients as the original brand name drug, but which are generally cheaper in price. Nearly 1 in 3 drugs dispensed are "generic". They undergo testing to ensure that they are similar to their "brand" counterparts in:
- Active Ingredient (e.g. "Pravastatin" is the active ingredient in brand name Pravachol)
- Dosage (e.g. 10 mg of the active ingredient)
- Safety (e.g. same or similar side effects, drug interactions)
- Performance (e.g. 10 mg of a "generic" can be substituted for 10 mg of the "brand" and have the same therapeutic result)
- Intended use (e.g. both "generic" and "brand" would be prescribed for the same conditions)
What this means is that "generic" medications can be used as a substitute of their brand equivalents with the comparable therapeutic results. There are a few exceptions (examples are outlined at the end of this page) and as always you should consult your physician before switching from a brand name medications to a generic or vice versa.
What differences are there between generic and brand?
While generics and brand equivalent drugs contain the same active ingredients, they may be different in the following ways:
- Appearance (e.g. the scoring or markings)
The color, shape and size of the medication come from the fillers that are added to the active ingredients to make the drug. These fillers that are added to the drug have no medical use and do not to change the effectiveness of the final product. A generic drug must contain comparable active ingredients and must have a comparable strength and dosage as the original brand name equivalent. Generic drugs can be more cost effective than purchasing the brand name.
Why do generics cost less than the brand name equivalents?
When a new drug is "invented", the company that discovered it has a patent on it that gives them the exclusive production rights for this medication. Once the patent expires in a country, other companies can bring the product to market under their own name. This patent prevents other companies from copying the drug during that time so they can earn back their Research and Development costs through being the exclusive supplier of the product. After the patent expires however, other companies can develop a "generic" version of the product. These versions generally are offered at much lower prices because the companies do not have the same development costs as the original company who developed the medication.
The main thing to realize here though is that the two products are therapeutically equivalent. They may look different, and be called something different.
How are Generic drugs tested to ensure quality and efficacy?
Generally speaking, the two most generally accepted methods to prove the safety of a generic version of a drug are to either repeat most of the chemistry, animal and human studies originally done, or to show that the drug performs comparably with the original brand name drug. This second option is called a "comparative bioavailability" study. During this type of study, volunteers are given the original drug, and then separately later the generic drug. The rates at which the drug is delivered to the patient (into their blood stream or otherwise absorbed) are measured to ensure they are the same. Because the same active ingredient is used the major concern is just that it delivers the common chemical(s) at the same rate so that they have the same effect. Please note that the methods that the manufacturers use may vary from country to country.