Lupus and Immunosuppressive Drug Treatment

The job of immunosuppressive medication is to lessen the action of the body‘s immune system. These drugs are normally used during organ transplant surgery to ensure that the recipients do not reject the organ being transplanted. Once a person has had a transplant they will have to be on these immunosuppressive drugs for the rest of their lives.

Researchers hope this will change but right now this is the only safe way to follow-up with organ transplants. These drugs have another purpose that is equally as important. For those who have lupus of any kind these drugs are very necessary especially if the symptoms they are suffering from show that the kidneys or the central nervous system are becoming damaged.


Despite the fact that these drugs can have side effects they have many benefits. One big one is that they are often a replacement for the corticosteroids that are steroid based and much more difficult for the body to tolerate. Nonetheless if it is corticosteroids that a lupus patient needs they should use them. But, if instead they can use the immunosuppressive drugs this is highly preferable. As well, when the patient is done using the immunosuppressive medication they will see that the side effects will go away and many will reverse after the medication is stopped.

There are several immunosuppressives that are more widely used in the United States. They include azathioprine, cyclosporine, cyclophosphamide and methotrexate. They can be given in pill form or if the health care provider feels the need to use a more aggressive form of fighting the disease then it is possible to administer the drug intravenously.

Not While Pregnant

It is not recommended that women who are in the middle of a treatment plan using immunosuppressives get pregnant while taking the medication. These drugs are very strong and so definitely can put the baby at risk. It is suggested that during a treatment period women use birth control methods and continue them for at least twelve weeks after the treatment is over. Some of these drugs can also come through breast milk so it is important to get a clear idea of the options from the health care provider who is treating their lupus condition.

Before a doctor starts their patient on immunosuppressives there are a few things to make sure of. It is necessary to be certain the patient will not have an allergic reaction to the medication. They must get an updated medical history to check that and the condition of the patient before they begin the drug treatment.

They must also learn what damage has been done to the persons organs and only then make the decision to put them on this medication. This is done the usual way; by blood work, x-rays and other imaging technology as well as liver and kidney function testing.

Despite the fact that when the health care provider is about to suggest a treatment like this there is likely no other choice it is a good idea to explain to the patient why they are suggesting this medication and what the likely outcome and side effects are.