Cyclosporine Frequently Asked Questions

Drug suppresses the immune system and my be used to treat Crohn's disease

Cyclosporine prescription

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Cyclosporine is a drug that decreases the action of the body’s immune system. It is used frequently to prevent rejection after an organ or a bone marrow transplant. It also is used to treat diseases caused by an "overactive" immune system, such as in patients who have Crohn’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis.

Cyclosporine dampens the action of the immune system, which is why it may be used to treat diseases and conditions that are thought to be immune-related. By lowering immune activity, the disease might be treated because the immune system is causing inflammation by attacking body systems and organs. This could also potentially lead to the body becoming more susceptible to infections from viruses and bacteria, which is why it will be important to discuss potential adverse effects with a physician while receiving this drug.

How Cyclosporine Is Taken

To keep a constant amount of cyclosporine in the body, it is important to take this drug at the same time each day. Not only is the time of day important, but also when cyclosporine is taken in relation to meals. Food has an effect on the absorption of cyclosporine, so cyclosporine should also be taken each day with the same association to food (ie, either with a meal or at the same interval before or after a meal).

Missed Doses

If a dose is missed, take it as soon as it is remembered. If the next dose should be taken soon, just take that dose. Don't double up, or take more than one dose at a time.

Contraindications

Tell your doctor if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Cancer
  • High blood pressure
  • Infection: viral, bacterial, or fungal
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease

Tell your doctor if you have ever received treatment with:

Potential Adverse Effects

Serious side effects of cyclosporine can include fever, chills, sore throat, bleeding or bruising easily, mouth sores, abdominal pain, pale stool, darkened or increased amount of urine, weight loss or gain, muscle spasms or weakness, fast or irregular heartbeat, muscle spasms, confusion, tingling in the hands or feet, problems in hearing, fatigue. Minor side effects can include decreased appetite, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, upset stomach, acne, cramping, increased hair growth, tremors, gum irritation, dizziness, flushing, and high blood pressure. See the cyclosporine side effects page for a more complete list.

Patients taking cyclosporine may be more vulnerable to infection. Avoid coming into contact with people who are sick with a cold, the flu, or other contagious illnesses, or those who have received a nasal flu or polio vaccine.

Sexual Side Effects

Cyclosporine is not known to cause any sexual side effects in either men or women.

Medication Interactions

Cyclosporine can interact with several drugs. Tell the prescribing physician about all drugs and nutritional supplements, especially those from the following list that may interact with cyclosporine.

  • Antifungals amphotericin B (Fungizone) and ketoconazole (Nizoral)
  • Bosentan
  • Bromocriptine (Parlodel)
  • Calcium-channel blockers such as diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor XR, Tiazac), nicardipine (Cardene), amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone) and verapamil (Calan, Verelan)
  • Colchicine and allopurinol (Aloprim, Lopurin, Zyloprim)
  • Danazol (Danocrine) and methylprednisolone (Medrol)
  • Digoxin (Lanoxin, Lanoxicaps)
  • Histamine H2-antagonists such as cimetidine (Tagamet, Tagamet HB) and ranitidine (Zantac, Zantac 75)
  • HIV protease inhibitors such as indinavir (Crixivan), nelfinavir (Viracept), ritonavir (Norvir), lopinavir-ritonavir (Kaletra) and saquinavir (Fortovase, Invirase)
  • Ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), and fluconazole (Diflucan)
  • Macrolide antibiotics such as erythromycin (Ery-Tab, E-Mycin, E.E.S., P.C.E.) and clarithromycin (Biaxin)
  • Melphalan (Alkeran)
  • Metoclopramide (Reglan)
  • NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin), naproxen (Naprosyn, Anaprox, Aleve, others), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam), etodolac (Lodine), flurbiprofen (Ansaid), fenoprofen (Nalfon), indomethacin (Indocin), ketorolac (Toradol), ketoprofen (Orudis KT, Orudis, Oruvail), nabumetone (Relafen), oxaprozin (Daypro), piroxicam (Feldene), sulindac (Clinoril), and tolmetin (Tolectin)
  • Potassium-sparing diuretics (water pills) such as amiloride (Midamor), spironolactone (Aldactone, Spironol), or triamterene (Dyrenium)
  • Prednisolone (Prelone, Pediapred)
  • PUVA or UVB therapy
  • Statins: lovastatin (Mevacor), fluvastatin (Lescol), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor), or atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • Sulfa antibiotics: trimethoprim with sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra, Sulfatrim), gentamicin (Garamycin), and vancomycin (Vancocin)
  • Tacrolimus (Prograf)
  • Vaccinations

Potential Food Interactions

Do not take cyclosporine with grapefruit or grapefruit juice.

Safety During Pregnancy

The FDA has classified cyclosporine as a type C drug. This means that it is not known whether cyclosporine will harm an unborn baby. Do not take this medication without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant or become pregnant during treatment. Cyclosporine does pass into breast milk and could affect a nursing infant.

A Word From Verywell

Cyclosporine is not often used to treat IBD in recent years as there are more effective choices available. Cyclosporine is sometimes given to inpatients in the hospital, because it is easier to maintain drug levels that way. However, it's not often that patients with IBD will be sent home on this drug.

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