Purinethol (mercaptopurine) Leukemia Drug Side Effects & Dosage

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What is Purinethol (mercaptopurine), and how does it work?

Generic drug: Purinethol

Brand name: mercaptopurine

Purinethol (mercaptopurine) is used to slow the growth of cancer cells. Purinethol is also used to treat certain types of leukemia.

What are the side effects of Purinethol?

Common side effects of Purinethol include:

Temporary hair loss may also occur. Normal hair growth should return after treatment with Purinethol has ended. Tell your doctor if you have unlikely but serious side effects of Purinethol including:

CAUTION


Purinethol (mercaptopurine) is a potent drug.
It should not be used unless a diagnosis of acute lymphatic leukemia has been adequately established and the responsible physician is experienced with the risks of
Purinethol and knowledgeable in assessing response to chemotherapy.

What is the dosage for Purinethol?

Recommended Dosage

  • The recommended starting dosage of Purinethol is 1.5 mg/kg to 2.5 mg/kg orally once daily as part of combination chemotherapy maintenance regimen. A recommended dosage for patients less than 17 kg is not achievable, because the only available strength is 50 mg. Take
    Purinethol either consistently with or without food.
  • After initiating Purinethol, monitor complete blood count (CBC) and adjust the dose to maintain absolute neutrophil count (ANC) at a desirable level and for excessive myelosuppression. Evaluate the bone marrow in patients with prolonged myelosuppression or repeated episodes of myelosuppression to assess leukemia status and marrow cellularity.
  • Evaluate thiopurine S-methyltransferase (TPMT) and nucleotide diphosphatase (NUDT15) status in patients with severe myelosuppression or repeated episodes or myelosuppression [see
    Dosage Modifications in Patients with TPMT and NUDT15 Deficiency
    below].
  • Do not administer to patients who are unable to swallow tablets.
  • If a patient misses a dose, instruct the patient to continue with the next scheduled dose.
  • Purinethol is a cytotoxic drug. Follow special handling and disposal procedures.

Dosage Modifications In Patients With TPMT And NUDT15 Deficiency

  • Consider testing for TPMT and NUDT15 deficiency in patients who
    experience severe myelosuppression or repeated episodes of myelosuppression.
Homozygous Deficiency In Either TPMT Or NUDT15
  • Patients with homozygous deficiency of either enzyme typically require 10% or less of the recommended dosage.
  • Reduce the recommended starting dosage of Purinethol in patients who are known to have homozygous TPMT or NUDT15 deficiency.
Heterozygous Deficiency In TPMT And/Or NUDT15
  • Reduce the Purinethol dose based on tolerability.
  • Most patients with heterozygous TPMT or NUDT15 deficiency tolerate the recommended dosage, but some require a dose reduction based on adverse reactions.
  •  Patients who are heterozygous for both TPMT and NUDT15 may require more substantial dose reductions.

Dosage Modifications In Renal And Hepatic Impairment

Renal Impairment
  • Use the lowest recommended starting dosage for Purinethol in patients
    with renal impairment (CLcr less than 50 mL/min).
  • Adjust the dosage to maintain absolute neutrophil count (ANC) at a
    desirable level and for adverse reactions.
Hepatic Impairment
  • Use the lowest recommended starting dosage for Purinethol in patients
    with hepatic impairment.
  • Adjust the dosage to maintain absolute neutrophil count (ANC) at a
    desirable level and for adverse reactions.

Dosage Modification With Concomitant Use Of Allopurinol

  • Reduce the dose of Purinethol to one-third to one-quarter of the current
    dosage when coadministered with allopurinol.



QUESTION


What is leukemia?
See Answer

What drugs interact with Purinethol?

Warfarin

  • The concomitant administration of Purinethol and warfarin may decrease the anticoagulant effectiveness of warfarin.
  • Monitor the international normalized ratio (INR) in patients receiving warfarin and adjust the warfarin dosage as appropriate.

Myelosuppressive Products

  • Purinethol can cause myelosuppression. Myelosuppression may be increased when
    Purinethol is coadministered with other products that cause myelosuppression. Enhanced myelosuppression has been noted in some patients also receiving trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. Monitor the CBC and adjust the dose of
    Purinethol for excessive myelosuppression.

Aminosalicylates

  • Aminosalicylates (e.g., mesalamine, olsalazine or sulfasalazine) may inhibit the TPMT enzyme, which may increase the risk of myelosuppression when coadministered with
    Purinethol. When aminosalicylates and Purinethol are coadministered, use the
    lowest possible doses for each drug and monitor more frequently for
    myelosuppression.

Hepatotoxic Products

  • Purinethol can cause hepatotoxicity. Hepatotoxicity may be increased when
    Purinethol is coadministered with other products that cause hepatotoxicity. Monitor liver tests more frequently in patients who are receiving
    Purinethol with other hepatotoxic products.

Is Purinethol safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding?

  • Purinethol can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman.
  • Pregnant women who receive mercaptopurine have an increased incidence of miscarriage and stillbirth.
  • There are no data on the presence of mercaptopurine or its metabolites in human milk, the effects on the breastfed child, or the effects on milk production.
  • Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in the breastfed
    child, women should not breastfeed during treatment with Purinethol and for 1 week after the last dose.

Medically Reviewed on 2/19/2021

References


All sections courtesy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration



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