Imuran - Anyone on this?

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New Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 16
   Posted 8/19/2008 5:53 PM (GMT -6)   
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 1999.  I went 4 years with out any issue and had a flare which only lasted a short time and was easily taken care of by increasing my Asacol and adding Rowasa. 
Over the last three years I have had a flare each year with each one getting progressively worse.  Last year's flare took Prednisone to get under control.  Fortunately, the Prednisone acted quickly and I was able to wean off of it with in about 3 months.  My doctor increased my Asacol to the max and added Hydrocortisone enimas for four months and then switched me to Canasa suppositories for the next year.
Earlier this year I started to get sick again.  At Easter the blood started and I got into my GI as soon as I could.  He switched me to Lialda, which didn't help me.  I went in for my third colonoscopy in 10 years in May. I was put on Prednisone again.  This time it didn't work.  For the remainder of May I was running to the bathroom nearly 30-40 times a day and 10-15 times a night.  I missed alot of work and was in constant contact with Mr. Doctor.  He added the Hydrocotisone enemas back and that seemed to help some...until he tried to start weaning me off the Prednisone.  As soon as I got to 20mg I was begining to go backwards again.  By 17.5 mg I was bleeding daily and the frequency was back up to about 8-10 times a day.  He took me back up to 30mg which is where I have been now since mid-July.  Also, he referred me to a specialist at the University of Michigan. 
My appointment was yesterday.  They want me off the Prednisone, but in order to do this want to put me on Imuran which is a anti-rejection medication for transplant patients.  Apparently it supresses the immune system.  I understand there could be some serious side effects from the medication.  I have to get blood tests done every two weeks for one month and once a month thereafter until they can determine I can handle the medication.  I will have to get a flu shot this year.  If I get a cold or sore throat or a fever over 100, I need to call the doctor and report it.
Does anyone have any experience with this medication?  If so, what if any side effects did you encounter and how did you handle the medication?
If all goes well, I should be able to be off the Prednisone completely by the end of the year and the doctor did mention the possibility of being able to stop taking the Asocol in a year or so.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 83
   Posted 8/19/2008 6:05 PM (GMT -6)   
I am on Imuran. I don't think I have had any bad side effects not like I do with Prednisone.Don't worry i was on Prednisone for an extended amount of time. Sounds like your gonna be off of it soon, so you shouldn't have any problems.
18 years old, College Student ~WAHOO GO CATS=)
Diagnosed in 2004
Currently on:
Imuran 3pills/day
And many other over the counter meds.

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 43
   Posted 8/19/2008 6:07 PM (GMT -6)   
Welcome to the forum. There are a lot of folks on here that are on imuran or its generic form azathiroprine There have been a lot of previous threads regarding the in/outs of this drug. I've been on it for over a year. Was on it previously and got over-confident...thought I was 'better'. I've learned my lesson. It's really important to have regular blood work and also to know that results are not immediate, most times up to 3- 4 months before you will see results. It made a enormous difference for me. I do get unnerved from time to time when I read the package insert with all the side effects, etc. Those are all factors to consider.
dx:2003 Pancolitis
current meds:
Colazol 1500 TID, Imuran 100mg, Healthy Trinity Probiotic, Grape Seed Ext. Biotin, Vit. E., Selenium, Flax Oil, Calcium, Zinc and Emergen-C

Elite Member

Date Joined Mar 2003
Total Posts : 10407
   Posted 8/19/2008 6:22 PM (GMT -6)   
I previously took Imuran. Yes, it can have some ugly side effects, but the good news is most people don't get those. As Slimcook said, it's really important to have your regular blood tests done. The chances of getting life-changing side effects with long-term Imuran therapy are much lower than with long-term Prednisone.

Remember, it's always your decision. Other medications or surgery are other options you can consider.
Judy - Southern US 
Moderate to severe left-sided UC (21 cm) diagnosed 2001.
Avascular necrosis in both shoulders is my "forever" gift from Entocort.
Colazal,  Remicade, Nature's Way Primadophilus Reuteri. In remission since April, 2006.
Co-Moderator UC Forum
Please remember to consult your health care provider when making health-related decisions.

New Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 16
   Posted 8/20/2008 5:17 AM (GMT -6)   
Thank you for the posts. I haven't had a chance yet to go through all the older threads and read through prior discussions on this particular drug. I am just so frustrated this time around. I can't see to kick it. And, as you all know it just affects so many areas of your life. I am a very active social person and during a flare, I just feel like crawling in a whole and being a hermit.

I feel like I have been doing everything right. I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't drink caffine, I try to eat as clean as absolutely possible. I eat small meals though out the day. I try to walk at least 30 minutes a day (when I'm not so drained of energy, that I can actually do it!). I get 8 hours a sleep at night. I take all my meds. I take probiotics. So what gives! It has been 7 months this time. I am tired of feeling like poop. Pardon the pun! I am only 36 years old and I really want to enjoy my children, my husband and my life! Hopefully, Imuran is worth it.

Thanks for letting me vent.


Another UC wife
Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 2111
   Posted 8/20/2008 8:49 AM (GMT -6)   

Imuran(Azathioprine) is what made the difference for hubby.  Mid May '07 along with 40 mg of prednisone to "jump start" it.  We requested a very slow taper on the pred due to being steroid dependant.  Started on 75 mg of Aza which was low but within 6/7 weeks there was a noticeable improvement.  In Nov Mayo increased it to 150mg more in line with his weight as he was tolerating and metabolizing the Aza just fine.  By early Dec he was off the prednisone and it was finally a successful taper for him.

His Mayo Dr requires monthly blood testing to monitor the Aza which is doing just fine for him.  This Nov we will have a 3-4 day stay at Mayo for another colonoscopy and other testing as they are just a bit concerned why he still needs the pain meds and want to see if something else is going on in there as they feel he should be in a much better place than he is at the moment.  His last visit in May the Dr was hoping he would be in a true remission at that visit.

As far as my husband is concerned he is quite pleased with the improvement and overall ability to have a lot of his life back.  What he contends with on a daily basis and the occasional blips he has learned to accept and be grateful that he can function and enjoy his days far better than when he was at rock bottom.  His acceptance of his limitations and frequency is just a part of his daily life now and he has learned to deal with it.  In comparison to where he was and where a lot of others are at the moment he still feels blessed to have most of his life back.

Hopefully the Imuran will make a big difference for you and your body allows it to work and help you.

61 yr old male~Colitis 1st diagnosed Jan '05-cleared up within a few wks. Flared again in May '06 (now UC) & hospitalized 5/07-currently heading towards a remission. Osteopena of spine from prednisone DX 8/07  Oct 07 feeling quite normal most days.  150mg Imuran  Zero mg prednisone  12 Asacol, Lidocaine Hydrochloride Jelly 2%,multi vitamin, iron 1X day, DanActive, chewable calcium, fiber capsule 1x day, Prilosec 20mg, enalapril 10mg, glipizide 5 mg, zocor 20 mg, baby aspirin, (Fentanyl pain patch 50mg 72 hrs  Morphine Sulf 15 mg twice daily)Cortifoam enema every other PM, Canasa suppositiry AM, folic acid 1mg, Fosamax 1x month

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