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Mercaptopurine is available as a pill you can swallow. It is sometimes called 6-mercaptopurine, or 6-MP.
Why It Is Used
Mercaptopurine is used to treat acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). It may also be used when chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) becomes a more aggressive disease, and for acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).
How Well It Works
Mercaptopurine works well against some ALL, CML, and a type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma called lymphoblastic lymphoma.1 It sometimes works well in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis that has not responded to other drugs.
Side effects of mercaptopurine are common and may include:
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Loss of appetite.
- Mouth sores.
- Changes in the way things taste.
- Changes in liver function.
- Rash, which may itch.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Mercaptopurine may increase the blood-thinning effects of other drugs, such as warfarin (for example, Coumadin).
You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after taking mercaptopurine. Talk about this with your doctor before starting treatment.
Mercaptopurine can cause birth defects. Do not use this drug if you are pregnant or wish to become pregnant or to father a child while you are taking it.
Women who take this drug may experience symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
Do not use alcohol or illegal drugs while you are taking this drug.
Last Updated: November 26, 2008