Mycophenolate Mofetil (CellCept) and Mycophenolate Sodium (Myfortic)
Mycophenolate Mofetil (CellCept) and Mycophenolate Sodium (Myfortic) are immunosuppressant drugs (drugs that reduce the strength of the body’s immune system) used in the treatment of several autoimmune diseases. Mycophenolate was originally used in the management of patients with organ transplants but is now recommended in the treatment of many autoimmune diseases.
Mycophenolate has been used to treat people with lupus (especially those with symptoms of kidney disease), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), vasculitis, inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease, inflammatory eye disease (such as uveitis [iritis] and scleritis), and some other kidney and skin disorders.
How to Take It
Mycophenolate is taken in the form of a pill. In adults, it is typically taken twice daily for a total dose of 2–3 grams (2,000–3,000 mg) per day. The dose may be reduced in people with underlying kidney problems. The dose for children is usually lower than two grams a day. Caregivers administering mycophenolate should wear gloves when handling it due to concerns about pregnancy risks and effects on the immune system.
The most common side effects of mycophenolate are nausea, upset stomach, and stomach pain. Taking mycophenolate with food often helps prevent these side effects. Other possible side effects include headaches, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, tremor, or rash. Prolonged use of mycophenolate may increase the risk of some cancers such as lymphomas and skin cancers. While taking mycophenolate, regular laboratory monitoring is required to monitor blood counts and liver function. Mycophenolate can lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections. If you develop symptoms of an infection while using this medication, you should stop it and contact your rheumatology provider.
Tell Your Rheumatology Provider
Notify your rheumatology provider if you have symptoms of an infection (such as fever or cough), diarrhea, or allergic reactions. You should also inform your rheumatology provider if you bruise or bleed easily, if you experience persistent or bloody diarrhea, or have shortness of breath. Mycophenolate usage should be stopped if there are signs of infection.
Mycophenolate has been associated with birth defects and pregnancy loss. If you are pregnant or considering pregnancy, let your rheumatology provider know before starting this medication. Women should discuss birth control with their primary care physicians or gynecologists. Breastfeeding should be avoided while taking this medication because the drug can enter breast milk.
While taking mycophenolate, be sure to talk with your rheumatology provider before receiving any vaccines or undergoing any surgeries. Live vaccines should be avoided, and you should discuss updating your vaccinations prior to starting mycophenolate.
Updated April 2023 by Nina Washington, MD, MPH, and reviewed by the American College of Rheumatology Committee on Communications and Marketing. This information is provided for general education only.
Individuals should consult a qualified health care provider for professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment of a medical or health condition.