Precautions

Drug information provided by: IBM Micromedex

It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects. Genetic testing may also be performed to check your levels of thiopurine S-methyltransferase (an enzyme needed to metabolize mercaptopurine).

Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant during treatment with this medicine and for at least 6 months after your last dose. Male patients who have female partners should use effective birth control during treatment with this medicine and for at least 3 months after the last dose. If you think you have become pregnant while using this medicine, tell your doctor right away.

Mercaptopurine can temporarily lower the number of white blood cells in your blood, increasing the chance of getting an infection. It can also lower the number of platelets, which are necessary for proper blood clotting. If this occurs, there are certain precautions you can take, especially when your blood count is low, to reduce the risk of infection or bleeding:

  • If you can, avoid people with infections. Check with your doctor immediately if you think you are getting an infection or if you get a fever or chills, cough or hoarseness, lower back or side pain, or painful or difficult urination.
  • Check with your doctor immediately if you notice any unusual bleeding or bruising, black, tarry stools, blood in the urine or stools, or pinpoint red spots on your skin.
  • Be careful when using a regular toothbrush, dental floss, or toothpick. Your medical doctor, dentist, or nurse may recommend other ways to clean your teeth and gums. Check with your medical doctor before having any dental work done.
  • Do not touch your eyes or the inside of your nose unless you have just washed your hands and have not touched anything else in the meantime.
  • Be careful not to cut yourself when you are using sharp objects such as a safety razor or fingernail or toenail cutters.
  • Avoid contact sports or other situations where bruising or injury could occur.

Check with your doctor right away if you have pain or tenderness in the upper stomach, pale stools, dark urine, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or yellow eyes or skin. These could be symptoms of a serious liver problem.

While you are being treated with mercaptopurine, and after you stop treatment with it, do not have any immunizations (vaccines) without your doctor's approval. Mercaptopurine may lower your body's resistance and the vaccine may not work as well or you might get the infection the vaccine is meant to prevent. In addition, you should not be around other persons living in your household who receive live virus vaccines because there is a chance they could pass the virus on to you. Some examples of live vaccines include measles, mumps, influenza (nasal flu vaccine), poliovirus (oral form), rotavirus, and rubella. Do not get close to them and do not stay in the same room with them for very long. If you have questions about this, talk to your doctor.

This medicine may increase your risk of getting certain types of cancer, including skin cancer and cervical cancer. Some teenagers and young adults with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis developed a rare type of cancer called hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma (HSTCL). Check with your doctor right away if you have unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarms, or groin, or unexplained weight loss.

This medicine may cause a life-threatening condition called macrophage activation syndrome (MAS). This usually occurs in patients with an autoimmune disease (eg, inflammatory bowel disease) or virus infection (eg, Epstein-Barr, cytomegalovirus), and must be treated immediately. Tell your doctor right away if you have a fever, cough that does not go away, redness in one part of your body, or warm feeling or swelling of your skin.

Talk with your doctor before using this medicine if you plan to have children. Some men and women using this medicine have become infertile (unable to have children).

This medicine may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Wear sunscreen. Do not use sunlamps or tanning beds.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.