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Updated April 2019
Mycophenolate mofetil (brand name CellCept, Imulate, Ceptolate) and mycophenolate sodium (brand name Myfortic) are both converted to mycophenolic acid, which is used to treat immune related diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (also known as lupus or SLE), autoimmune vasculitis, inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease, and other kidney or skin disorders. It is also used to prevent transplant rejection in people who have received transplanted organs such as kidneys.
It is an immunosuppressive medicine, which means that it works by reducing the activity of the immune system. In kidney disease caused by SLE, this action helps to reduce inflammation in the kidneys and thus reduce protein loss in urine and helps stabilize kidney function.
Mycophenolate is useful in many autoimmune diseases. It does not work straight away.
Reduced symptoms may be noticed after 4 weeks. The effects to delay or prevent damage may take several months.
Treatment with mycophenolate may be continued indefinitely as long as it is effective and as long as no serious side effects occur.
If you stop mycophenolate treatment for more than a few weeks, there is a risk that your condition may worsen. Continue with your treatment unless advised by your doctor or unless side effects develop.
Other medicines may be given to improve your symptoms while waiting for this medicine to work.
Mycophenolate is taken by mouth as a tablet, usually twice a day. Taking the medicine in the evening or at meal times may help to reduce nausea (see possible side effects). It can be given as a liquid if the tablets are hard to swallow.
Mycophenolate mofetil (Cellcept) tablets come in strengths of 250mg or 500mg. The liquid contains 1g in 5mls.
Mycophenolate sodium (Myfortic) tablets come in strengths of 180mg or 360mg.
Treatment usually starts with a low dose, which is increased and adjusted depending on the response and side effects. The usual maximum daily dose is up to 2 to 3g of Cellcept or 1.440g (4 x 360mg tablets) to 2.160g (6 x 360mg tablets) of Myfortic.
Mycophenolate may be taken in combination with other arthritis medicines, including:
There are separate information sheets for the medicines mentioned above.
You might experience side effects with your treatment. Tell your doctor if you are concerned about possible side effects.
A reduction in dose may minimise side effects so that you can continue to take the treatment. Your doctor will advise on any dose changes that are necessary.
There are some rare but potentially serious side effects with mycophenolate.
Mycophenolate may be taken for long periods to manage immune conditions. In addition to possible effects mentioned above, the following are rare but possible long term side effects, or long term issues that may concern patients
The information sheet that comes with your mycophenolate will also outline in detail potential serious side effects. Many of those side effects relate to the use of higher doses used to prevent transplant organ rejection. These may not be applicable to the much lower doses that are prescribed for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about any possible side effects.