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About your medicine

Ciclosporin belongs to a group of medicines called immuno-suppressants. As the word immuno-suppressant suggests, the function of these drugs is to suppress the immune system, which is the body’s natural defence system. The aim is to dampen down the immune system enough to stop it rejecting the transplant kidney while still keeping it active enough to fight infections. All patients who have a kidney transplant need to take drugs called immuno-suppressants.

 Ciclosporin is only available from your doctor.

Ciclosporin is also taken for autoimmune diseases. It is used to try and improve kidney function and to dampen down the disease, stopping it from causing any further damage to the body.

You should NOT be vaccinated with some vaccines whilst receiving ciclosporin. (Vaccines are injections that can be given to help prevent you from catching some diseases, for example, polio). For vaccines you can and cannot have, see the vaccine page.

Ciclosporin is the drug name, there are different brands of ciclosporin available. The best known brand is Neoral®. It is also available as Deximune®. It is very important that you ALWAYS take the same brand of ciclosporin. Always check that you receive the same brand from your doctor or pharmacy. Different brands can work differently, if you change brands you may damage your new kidney.

You should NEVER stop taking Ciclosporin unless told to by your hospital consultant!

Taking your medicine

It is best to remove the capsule as shown in the picture. Place the capsule in your mouth and swallow the capsule whole with a glass of water.

You should not chew the capsules. Your daily dose should be taken as two divided doses, morning and evening, as directed by your doctor (12 hours apart). Ciclosporin liquid is available if you have problems swallowing.

You should AVOID grapefruit and grapefruit juice for one hour before taking ciclosporin, because it can affect the amount of ciclosporin that gets into your system..

You should take the capsules exactly as recommended by your doctor. You will need to have regular blood samples taken to check that you are receiving the correct dose of ciclosporin, too much can be bad for your kidney. When you come to have a blood test you should not take your morning dose until after you have had your blood taken.

If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember, unless it is nearly time for your next dose, then go on as before.

Always take ciclosporin as directed by your doctor and only stop it on the advice of your doctor.

You will lose your new kidney if you stop taking ciclosporin.

Unwanted effects

Ciclosporin can cause side effects in some people. The most common side effects include gum swelling, hair growth (especially facial hair), tremor, feeling sick and diarrhoea. The more rare side effects include rashes, weight increase, kidney damage and muscle weakness.

It is important that you visit your dentist regularly and tell them that you are taking ciclosporin and clean your teeth regularly. It is recommended to use a medicated mouthwash such as Corsodyl® to help the gums not to swell.

You are more likely to develop infections whilst receiving immuno-supressant therapy and any infections may be worse than normal, you should report any signs of infection to your doctor. You should also report any unexpected bruising, bleeding or rashes to your doctor.

Some drugs may cause problems when taken with ciclosporin; these include erythromycin, rifampicin and phenytoin. Some herbal remedies may also cause problems, including St John’s wort. This is not a full list so always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any other medicines with ciclosporin.

It is best to AVOID sunbathing and use a total sunblock in sunny weather.

You are recommended to see your doctor about regular skin checks and cervical smears for women. This is because you are more likely to develop skin or cervical cancers but these are not serious if noticed early.

Storing your medicine

Keep your medicine in a safe cool place away from children. Keep them in the packet they came in until you need to take them.
Do not throw out any expired or unwanted medicine by flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

The National Kidney Federation cannot accept responsibility for information provided. The above is for guidance only. Patients are advised to seek further information from their own doctor.

NKF Controlled Document No. 74: Ciclosporin written: 22/04/2000 last reviewed: 01/10/2016