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Jun 10, 2024


Taking Mycophenolate for the First Time? Here’s How to Get the Best Results

Mycophenolate is a medication used to prevent organ rejection in individuals who have undergone a liver, kidney, or heart transplant. It is available in both generic form and under the brand name Cellcept. This drug is part of a class known as immunosuppressants, which help to suppress the body's immune response. Mycophenolate can be prescribed to patients as young as three months old. It works well in conjunction with other immunosuppressants, such as tacrolimus or cyclosporine to enhance its effectiveness.

How Mycophenolate Works

Mycophenolate works by weakening the immune system. When a person receives a transplanted organ, their immune system may recognize it as a foreign object and try to attack it. This immune response can lead to organ rejection. Mycophenolate helps prevent this by inhibiting certain functions of the immune system, making it less likely to attack the new organ. This suppression allows the transplanted organ to be accepted and function properly within the recipient's body.

How to Take Mycophenolate

Mycophenolate is available in several forms, including:

  • Capsules (250 mg)
  • Tablets (500 mg)
  • Powder for suspension (200 mg/mL)

It is usually taken by mouth on an empty stomach, either at least one hour before or two hours after a meal. The specific dosage and form of mycophenolate prescribed will depend on the individual patient's needs and the type of organ transplant they have received.

Side Effects

Although Mycophenolate is generally considered safe and effective for many individuals, it does still cause an extensive number of negative effects.

Gastrointestinal Issues
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain

Due to the immunosuppressive nature of the drug, there is an increased risk of infections, including respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, and other bacterial, viral, or fungal infections.

Blood-Related Issues
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Leukopenia (low white blood cell count)
  • Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)
Less Common but Serious Side Effects
  • Severe Infections: The suppression of the immune system can lead to more serious infections, such as sepsis or opportunistic infections.
  • Lymphoma and Other Malignancies: Long-term use of immunosuppressants, including mycophenolate, has been associated with an increased risk of developing certain types of cancers, including lymphoma and skin cancer.
  • Liver Problems: Symptoms can include yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice), dark urine, and severe fatigue.
  • Kidney Problems: Signs can include changes in urination patterns, swelling in the legs and ankles, and high blood pressure.
  • Allergic Reactions: Symptoms can include rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, and trouble breathing.

Mycophenolate and Pregnancy

When administered during pregnancy, mycophenolate might result in a miscarriage or birth abnormalities, especially if taken during the first 3 months of pregnancy. A negative pregnancy test is required both before and during the course of this medication. To avoid getting pregnant while receiving mycophenolate therapy and soon after, both men and women should utilize an effective form of birth control.


Mycophenolate can interact with other medications, which can either increase the risk of side effects or reduce the effectiveness of the treatments. Always inform your doctor about all the medications you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs, supplements, and herbal products.

Timing with Other Medications

If you take sevelamer or antacids, it's recommended to take your dose of mycophenolate at least 2 hours before taking these medications. This helps to avoid reduced absorption and effectiveness of mycophenolate.

Common Drug Interactions
  • Azathioprine: Using azathioprine with mycophenolate can increase the risk of bone marrow suppression and other side effects.
  • Cholestyramine: This can decrease the absorption of mycophenolate, reducing its effectiveness.
  • Acyclovir and Valacyclovir: These antiviral drugs can increase the levels of mycophenolate in your blood, potentially leading to increased side effects.
  • Amoxicillin: Antibiotics like amoxicillin can alter gut bacteria and affect the metabolism of mycophenolate.
  • Ciprofloxacin and Metronidazole: These antibiotics can affect the absorption and effectiveness of mycophenolate.
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs): Drugs such as esomeprazole, lansoprazole, and omeprazole can alter the stomach environment, affecting how mycophenolate is absorbed.

Your physician may need to adjust the dosage of mycophenolate or other medications you are taking to ensure that each drug works effectively without causing adverse effects. If you start or stop taking any medications while on mycophenolate, let your doctor know immediately.

What Should I Avoid While Taking Mycophenolate?

When taking mycophenolate, be aware of certain precautions and activities to avoid to ensure your safety and the effectiveness of the medication.

  • Driving or Engaging in Risky ActivitiesUntil you know how mycophenolate affects you, avoid driving or engaging in activities that require alertness. Mycophenolate can slow your reflexes, increasing the risk of accidents.
  • Increased Sun Sensitivity: Mycophenolate can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, increasing the risk of sunburn. To protect yourself:
    • Avoid direct sunlight and tanning beds
    • Wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves and hats, when outdoors
    • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher
  • Live Vaccinations: Do not receive "live" vaccines while taking mycophenolate. Live vaccines contain weakened forms of the virus or bacteria and may not work effectively or could cause illness in immunosuppressed individuals.
    • MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella)
    • Varicella (chickenpox)
    • FluMist (nasal spray flu vaccine)
    • Yellow fever vaccine

Speak with Your Doctor

Mycophenolate is considered a safe and effective medication when taken appropriately (as prescribed by your doctor). Talk to your doctor today about using Mycophenolate and send your prescription to Marley Drug. Save up to 95% compared to your local pharmacy by using Marley Drug.