Tacrolimus (Oral route)
Increased susceptibility to infection and the possible development of lymphoma and other malignancies may result from immunosuppression. Only physicians experienced in immunosuppressive therapy and management of organ transplant patients should prescribe, and they should have complete information requisite for the follow-up of the patient .
Uses of This Medicine:
Tacrolimus is used together with other medicines to prevent the body from rejecting a transplanted organ (e.g., kidney, liver, or heart). This medicine may be used with steroids, azathioprine (Imuran®), or mycophenolate mofetil (Cellcept®). Tacrolimus belongs to a group of medicines known as immunosuppressive agents.
When a patient receives an organ transplant, the body's white blood cells will try to get rid of (reject) the transplanted organ. Tacrolimus works by suppressing the immune system to prevent the white blood cells from trying to get rid of the transplanted organ.
Tacrolimus is a very strong medicine. It can cause side effects that can be very serious, such as kidney problems. It may also decrease the body's ability to fight infections. You and your doctor should talk about the benefits of this medicine as well as the risks of using it.
This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Once a medicine has been approved for marketing for a certain use, experience may show that it is also useful for other medical problems. Although not specifically included in the product labeling, tacrolimus is used in certain patients with the following medical conditions:
Before Using This Medicine:
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of tacrolimus in children with liver transplants.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of tacrolimus in children with kidney and heart transplants. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of tacrolimus in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have kidney, liver, or heart problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving tacrolimus.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking this medicine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using this medicine with any of the following is usually not recommended, but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use this medicine, or give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems—
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
Proper Use of This Medicine:
Take this medicine exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not take more or less of it and do not take it more often than your doctor ordered. Using too much will increase the chance for side effects, while using too little may cause you to reject your transplanted organ.
This medicine comes with a patient information insert. It is very important that you read and understand this information. Be sure to ask your doctor about anything you do not understand.
This medicine is always used together with other medicines. Make sure you understand when to take all of your medicines during the day. Your doctor will give you a daily plan for taking your medicines.
You may take this medicine with or without food. However, you should take it the same way each time.
You should not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you are taking this medicine Grapefruit and grapefruit juice will increase the amount of medicine in the body.
Do not stop taking this medicine without first checking with your doctor. You might have to take medicine for the rest of your life to prevent your body from rejecting the transplant.
The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
Missed dose—DRUG: GENERAL, MISS, STANDARD
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Precautions While Using This Medicine:
It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly. Blood and urine tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
This medicine may increase your risk of getting skin cancer or cancer of the lymph system (lymphoma). Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about this risk.
Use sunscreen or sunblock lotions with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 on a regular basis when you are outdoors. Wear protective clothing and hats, and stay out of direct sunlight between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm. Avoid sunlamps and tanning beds.
This medicine may increase your risk of developing infections. Avoid being near people who are sick while you are using this medicine. Wash your hands often. Tell your doctor if you have any kind of infection before you start using this medicine. Tell your doctor if you have ever had an infection that would not go away or an infection that kept coming back.
While you are being treated with tacrolimus, and after you stop treatment with it, do not have any immunizations (vaccines) without your doctor's approval. Tacrolimus 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 for developing a rare and serious virus infection with the BK polyoma virus. This virus may affect how your kidneys work and cause a transplanted kidney to fail. Check with your doctor right away if you are having more than one of these symptoms: bloody urine; a decreased frequency or amount of urine; increased thirst; loss of appetite; lower back or side pain; nausea; swelling of the face, fingers, or lower legs; trouble with breathing; unusual tiredness or weakness; vomiting; or weight gain.
This medicine may increase your risk of developing a serious and rare brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). Check with your doctor right away if you are having more than one of these symptoms: vision changes; loss of coordination; clumsiness; confusion; memory loss; difficulty speaking or understanding what others say; or weakness in the legs.
This medicine may cause serious nervous system problems. Tell your doctor right away if you have the following symptoms while using this medicine: blurred vision, dizziness, headache, mental changes, seizures, high blood pressure, or a fast heartbeat.
Hyperkalemia (high potassium in the blood) may occur while you are using this medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you have the following symptoms: abdominal or stomach pain; confusion; difficulty with breathing; an irregular heartbeat; nausea or vomiting; nervousness; numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or lips; shortness of breath; or weakness or heaviness of the legs.
Tacrolimus may cause a condition called pure red cell aplasia (PRCA). This is a very rare condition where the body no longer makes red blood cells and the patient has severe anemia. Check with your doctor right away if you have a fever and sore throat; pale skin; unusual bleeding or bruising; or unusual tiredness or weakness.
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.
Side Effects of This Medicine:
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Last Updated: 6/13/2013
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