Medicines have benefits and some have risks. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist or you have side effects see your health professional. Brands and generics both contain the same active ingredient(s) and are medically equivalent. Some brands are marketed under different names by the same manufacturing country depending on the country of origin.
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Prograf (tacrolimus) is a macrolide immunosuppressant medication used for the prevention of organ rejection in those who have received kidney, liver, or heart transplants. It works by reducing the capacity of the immune system to attack a transplanted organ, thus facilitating acceptance of the organ.
The medication is typically administered along with adrenal steroids for liver transplants, and adrenal corticosteroids plus mycophenolate mofetil or azathioprine for kidney and heart transplants.
Less commonly Prograf may be used for rejection prevention of other transplanted organs, such as lungs. The medication may also be used to treat other conditions, such as ulcerative colitis, fistulizing Crohn's disease, and, in topical ointments, a variety of skin conditions when other treatments have failed.
What to Expect from Treatment
Organ transplants are, obviously, very serious medical undertakings. Other medications will be certainly be involved and in all respects treatment will be individualized according to numerous personal variables. This makes it very difficult to generalize treatment; doctor instructions for a given individual may deviate considerably from the broad information presented here.
In treating skin conditions Prograf is used as a topical ointment. In all other conditions the medication is delivered via IV infusion, tablet, or oral suspension for those who have difficulty or an aversion to swallowing tablets. Tablets or oral suspension are preferred; patients on IV infusion are usually switched to tablets or oral suspension as soon as possible. Treatment typically begins within 6 to 24 hours of transplantation.
As a general rule Prograf is administered every 12 hours. With tablets gastric disturbance is sometimes experienced, which may be alleviated if the medication is taken with a meal, but taking on a full stomach will lessen absorption. Whichever way is chosen Prograf should subsequently be taken in the same manner so that absorption remains consistent.
Dosage is highly individualized for each patient. The chosen dose is typically gradually reduced over the course of year, and treatment may continue for longer.
Precautions & Potential Problems
Since treatment typically begins in a hospital setting most serious problems will be quickly noticed and resolved by medical professionals. Once home, patients or caretakers should be alert for warning signs and not hesitate to contact a doctor with any questions or concerns, no matter how trivial they may seem.
In most cases side effects are fairly mild, including:
More of a concern outside of hospital settings are the consequences of a suppressed immune system, which makes patients more susceptible to infection. Care should be taken to practice good hygiene and avoid situations in which contact with contagions are likely. Patients are also advised to avoid individuals who have recently received live vaccinations.
Seek prompt medical attention if experiencing:
Patients treated with Prograf may develop high blood pressure, high blood glucose (diabetes), and electrolyte imbalances, all of which can cause additional complications. If possible these should be monitored for developing problems.
Suppression of the immune system by Prograf may leave the body more vulnerable to cancer. Extended sun exposure and tanning should be avoided. Protective clothing and sunblock should be utilized for even brief sun exposure.
Avoid taking Prograf with grapefruit or grapefruit juice; doing so can amplify the medication's effects, increasing risk of side effects.
Prograf is known to interact with a wide variety of other medications. Patients should avoid taking even over-the-counter medications and supplements unless its use has been explicitly approved by a doctor.