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METHOTREXATE
METHOTREXATE - ORAL

Important Note

The following information is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your physician, pharmacist or other healthcare professional. It should not be construed to indicate that use of the drug is safe, appropriate, or effective for you. Consult your healthcare professional before using this drug.

METHOTREXATE - ORAL

(meth-oh-TREX-ate)

COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Rheumatrex

WARNING: Rarely, methotrexate has caused serious (sometimes fatal) side effects. Therefore, this medication should be used only to treat cancer or severe cases of psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis. Methotrexate has caused birth defects and fetal death. Women must avoid becoming pregnant while taking this medication. Pregnant women who have psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis must not use methotrexate. (See also Precautions) If you have kidney problems or excess body water (ascites, pleural effusion), you must be closely monitored and your dose may be adjusted or stopped by your doctor. Infrequently, methotrexate (usually at high dosages) has caused severe (sometimes fatal) bone marrow suppression (decreasing your body's ability to fight infections) and stomach/intestinal disease (e.g., bleeding) when used at the same time as non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen). This drug in rare instances may also cause liver problems when it is used for long periods of time. If you are using methotrexate long-term, a liver biopsy is usually recommended. Rarely, methotrexate use has resulted in serious (sometimes fatal) lung problems, lung infections (Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia), skin reactions, diarrhea and mouth sores (ulcerative stomatitis). (See also Side Effects) Very infrequently, lumps (tumors/abnormal growths) may appear during methotrexate use. The drug must be stopped and treatment may be needed. Consult your doctor immediately if new lumps/growths occur. When used to treat tumors, methotrexate sometimes causes side effects due to the rapid destruction of cancer cells (tumor lysis syndrome). Tell your doctor immediately if you experience symptoms such as irregular heartbeat or muscle weakness. Although rare, this medication when used with radiation treatment may increase the risk of tissue and bone damage. Discuss the risks and benefits of your treatment plan with your doctor.

Uses

Methotrexate is used to treat certain types of cancer or to control severe psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis. This medication works by interfering with cell growth and by suppressing the immune system. Early treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with more aggressive therapy such as methotrexate helps to reduce further joint damage and to preserve joint function.

OTHER

Uses

This medication has also been used to treat other disorders such as lupus and psoriatic arthritis.

How To Use

This is a potent medication. The dose and how often you take this drug is based on your medical condition and response to therapy. There are many different dosing schedules for this medicine (especially for cancer treatment). Therefore, it is very important that you follow your doctor's instructions carefully. Take it by mouth exactly as directed. For managing psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis, take this medication exactly as directed, usually once a week. It may take up to several months of continued use before the full benefit of this drug is seen. Do not increase your dose or take this medication more often without your doctor's approval. Your condition will not improve any faster and the risk of serious side effects may be increased. Unless your doctor instructs you otherwise, drink plenty of fluids while taking this medication. This helps your kidneys to remove the drug from your body and minimize some of the side effects. This medication may come with a Patient Information Leaflet. Read it carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist any questions that you may have about this medicine.

Side Effects

See also the Warning section. Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, drowsiness or dizziness may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor or pharmacist promptly. Tell your doctor immediately if any of these serious side effects occur: mouth sores, diarrhea, fever, fatigue, persistent sore throat, unusual bleeding or bruising, black stools, skin rash, enlarged glands/lymph nodes, dark urine, bone pain, unusual pain and discoloration of the skin. Tell your doctor immediately if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: yellowing of the eyes/skin, change in the amount of urine, chest pain, dry cough, trouble breathing, calf pain/swelling, vision changes, irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness, mental/mood changes, seizures. Temporary hair loss may occur. Normal hair growth should return after treatment has ended. An allergic reaction to this drug is unlikely, but seek immediate medical attention if it occurs. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include: rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, trouble breathing. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

Precautions

This medication should not be used if you have certain medical conditions. Before using this medicine, consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have: liver disease, severe kidney disease, severe lung disease (e.g., pulmonary fibrosis), alcohol use, suppressed immune system, blood cell/bone marrow disorders. Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: stomach/intestinal diseases (e.g., peptic ulcer, ulcerative colitis), kidney disease, any active infection (including chickenpox or recent exposure to it), folic acid deficiency, any allergies. This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy; use caution engaging in activities requiring alertness such as driving or using machinery. Avoid alcoholic beverages. This medication may make you more sensitive to the sun. Avoid prolonged sun exposure, tanning booths or sunlamps. Use a sunscreen and wear protective clothing when outdoors. Do not have immunizations/vaccinations without the consent of your doctor and avoid contact with people who have recently received oral polio vaccine. Use caution with sharp objects like safety razors or nail cutters and avoid activities such as contact sports to lower the chance of getting cut, bruised, or injured. Wash your hands well to prevent the spread of infections. Methotrexate must not be used during pregnancy. It may cause fetal harm. If you become pregnant or think you may be pregnant, inform your doctor immediately. Pregnancy must be avoided, therefore males and females must use reliable form(s) of birth control during and for at least 3 months following the end of methotrexate treatment. Methotrexate passes into breast milk. Do not breast-feed while using this drug due to the risk for fetal harm.

Drug Interactions

This drug should not be used with the following medications because very serious interactions may occur: acitretin, asparaginase, live vaccines, NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen) with high-dose methotrexate therapy for certain cancers, pyrimethamine. If you are currently using any of these medications, tell your doctor or pharmacist before starting methotrexate. Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all prescription and nonprescription products you may use, especially of: aspirin/NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen), other cancer treatments potentially toxic to the kidney (e.g., cisplatin), digoxin, leflunomide, other drugs potentially toxic to the liver (e.g., azathioprine, sulfasalazine, retinoids such as isotretinoin), penicillins, phenytoin, probenecid, procarbazine, sulfa medications, theophylline. Certain antibiotics (e.g., chloramphenicol, sulfa, tetracyclines) may interfere with methotrexate blood tests (increase methotrexate blood levels due to protein-binding displacement). Make sure laboratory personnel and your doctors know you are using any of these types of antibiotics. Do not start or stop any medicine without doctor or pharmacist approval.

Overdose

If overdose is suspected, contact your local poison control center or emergency room immediately. Symptoms of overdose may include severe nausea and vomiting, and bloody stools.

Notes

Do not share this medication with others. Laboratory and/or medical tests (e.g., CBC, liver and kidney function tests) should be performed periodically to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.

Missed Dose

It is important to use each dose at the scheduled time. If you miss a dose, contact your doctor to establish a new dosing schedule. Do not "double-up" the dose to catch up.

Storage

Store this medication at room temperature between 59 to 86 degrees F (15 to 30 degrees C) away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medicines away from children and pets.

Medical Alert

Your condition can cause complications in a medical emergency. For enrollment information call MedicAlert at 1-800-854-1166 (USA), or 1-800-668-1507 (Canada).