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Purinethol or the generic alternative Mercaptopurine is an antimetabolite that may be prescribed for the treatment of acute lymphocytic leukemia, along with other medications. Purinethol may also be recommended to treat Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and lymphoblastic lymphoma. The generic alternative is not manufactured by the company that makes the brand product.
Purinethol belongs to a class of drugs known as an antimetabolite and is called cell-cycle specific. When taken as directed, Purinethol mimics the chemicals that develop into DNA building blocks for cancer cells and then are able to prevent certain these substances from being incorporated into DNA during the ‘S’ (synthesis) phase of the cell cycle. This results in abnormalities in the cancer cell development and division and eventual cell death.
Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is a type of blood cancer that starts with the increase of white blood cells in the bone marrow caused by an error in its DNA that fails to tell the cells to stop growing and dividing. As the cells continue to increase in numbers, the healthy cells are crowded out and the leukemia cells invade the body quickly and can then spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. ALL is the most common childhood cancer but can occur in adults.
Purinethol has shown to be able to delay recurrences of Crohn’s disease in some individuals that are considered a high risk to recur or those that have undergone previous bowel surgeries for Crohn’s. The immunosuppressant properties of Purinethol can also help treat ulcerative colitis.
Tell your doctor about other medical conditions or allergies you have and list any OTC or Rx drugs you take, including herbal remedies and dietary or vitamin supplements. Some patients who have taken Purinethol have developed a fast-growing form of lymphoma; you should discuss this potential risk with your doctor before you start taking Purinethol.
There are potential hazards should you become pregnant, or if your wife becomes pregnant, while you are taking Purinethol. Reliable birth control methods should be used to prevent this from happening. You should not operate a vehicle, machinery, or attempt any tasks considered unsafe if you are not fully alert. Keep all medications out of children’s reach and never share them with others.
Treatment with Purinethol will reduce the number of white cells in your blood and increase your susceptibility to infection. Extra care should be taken to avoid close contact with people with infections, crowded areas, or large gatherings; advise your doctor if you have a high temperature or sore throat.