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About your medicine

Mycophenolate 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.

Mycophenolate is also taken for autoimmune diseases for example systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). 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.

Mycophenolate is only available from your doctor.

There are several mycophenolate products which include mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) and mycophenolate sodium (Myfortic). Your transplant doctors will advise which you are to take. You must not switch between the two preparations of the drug unless your transplant doctor advises you to do so. However you may change between different brands of mycophenolate mofetil – ask your pharmacist for advice.

You should NOT be vaccinated with some vaccines whilst receiving mycophenolate. (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.

Taking your medicine

Your recommended daily dose should be divided and taken as equal doses in the morning and evening (12 hours apart).

Take the capsules/tablets exactly as your doctor asked you, never change the dose yourself. If you accidentally take an extra dose, tell your doctor immediately, if you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless it is nearly time for the next dose, then go on as before.

If you stop taking mycophenolate you will lose your new kidney or cause your disease to get worse.

You will need to have regular blood samples taken and your medication may need to be adjusted according to your blood test.

Unwanted effects

Mycophenolate may cause side effects in some people. the most common side effects include diarrhoea, feeling sick, trembling, headaches and dizziness. Other side effects include problems with the blood. As with any immuno-suppressive drug you are more likely to develop infections and any infections may be worse than normal, you should report any signs of infection to your doctor.

Some other drugs may cause problems with mycophenolate, these include Indigestion remedies, aciclovir, probenecid and cholestyramine. 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 medication along with mycophenolate.

It is best to AVOID sunbathing and to use a 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, though these are not serious if noticed early.

Always take mycophenolate as directed by your doctor and only stop them on the advice of your doctor.

All tablets may cause side effects in some people. If you think that you are suffering from a side effect of one of your tablets it is important NOT to stop taking the tablet, but see your doctor who may be able to change that tablet for one which will suit you better.

Mycophenolate products can cause birth defects in the unborn baby of mothers who are, or have recently been, taking mycophenolate. It is for this reason women are advised not to become pregnant whilst taking mycophenolate and for 6 weeks after stopping.

Information for women who could become pregnant

  • Do not stop taking mycophenolate without speaking to a member of transplant/renal team, even if you think that you have become pregnant.

  • We now know that approximately one in four children born to women who are taking mycophenolate will have a birth defect. Up to half of pregnant women taking mycophenolate will have a miscarriage. Both of these figures are much higher with mycophenolate compared with women who take other anti-rejection medicines or in those who do not take mycophenolate.

  • Before you start mycophenolate you will be asked to do 2 pregnancy tests 8-10 days apart. Where possible, treatment will only be started if these are negative.

    • Date of pregnancy test 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    • Date of pregnancy test 2 (8-10 days later) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • While taking mycophenolate (and for at least 6 weeks after stopping) you should use two reliable forms of contraception.

  • Reliable methods of contraception include:-

    • Barrier methods (condoms, diaphragm) when supplemented with spermicide

    • Tubal ligation (sterilisation)

    • Hormonal implants

    • Oral or injected combined hormonal contraceptives (the pill)

    • Certain intrauterine devices (the coil – check with family planning clinic)

    • Male sterilisation

  • Do not donate blood during or for 6 weeks after stopping treatment.

Information for men whose partner could become pregnant

  • Do not stop taking mycophenolate without speaking to a member of transplant/renal team, even if you think that your partner has become pregnant.

  • For sexually active men (including those who have had a vasectomy), condoms should be used during treatment and for 90 days (13 weeks) after your last dose of mycophenolate to avoid mycophenolate being passed to your female partner.

  • Female partners of male patients treated with mycophenolate should use reliable contraception during treatment and for 90 days (13 weeks) after your last dose.

  • Men should not donate sperm during therapy or for 90 days (13 weeks) after your last dose of mycophenolate.

  • Do not donate blood during or for 6 weeks after stopping treatment

If I am taking mycophenolate and want to try for a baby, what are my options?

It is important that you talk to your consultant or a member of the transplant/renal team before trying for a baby. If you are a man or a woman taking mycophenolate, it may be possible for you to change to an alternative medicine.

In transplantation, we recommend that both male and female patients who are taking mycophenolate wait one or two years after your transplant before considering a switch of anti-rejection medicines in order to try for a baby. This helps to ensure that

  • any risk of rejection with the medicine switch is minimal,

  • you are on the lowest doses of anti-rejection medicine possible,

  • your transplant function is stable.

For people taking mycophenolate for an autoimmune disease we recommend that you have a discussion with your consultant in clinic before trying for a baby. Your consultant will assess how active your disease is as it important that you only try for a baby if your disease is well controlled. Your consultant will discuss the possibility of switching to an alternative treatment to mycophenolate.

Storing your medicine

Store the capsules in their original container in a cool, dry place away from children. Only remove the capsules from the blister pack when it is time 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. 75: Mycophenolate written: 10/03/2001 last reviewed: 12/09/2016