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What is Tacrolimus?
Tacrolimus also sold under the trade name Prograf, Pangraf, Protopic, Tacromus, or Talimus among several other brands is an immunosuppressive drug meaning it suppresses your body’s immune power. The immune system helps your body to guard against invading foreign bodies which can cause infections and illnesses, thereby preventing common or dangerous diseases. The same immune system can be a disadvantage during an organ transplant as it will treat the organ to be implanted as a foreign body and your body will reject it (organ) completely from integrating.
Tacrolimus is used along with other medications to stop your body from rejecting a transplanted heart, liver, or kidney. This medication may also be given for conditions other than that mentioned here.
Important Information about Tacrolimus
Tacrolimus being an immunosuppressive drug may increase your likelihood of catching serious and life threatening infections, cancer, or render the transplant useless. Therefore, it is important that you avoid contact with sick people or places where chances of catching an infection are high like a hospital. While taking this medication, you will be required to undergo regular medical tests to ensure that it is not causing dangerous effects. Don’t avoid any prescribed tests.
Tacrolimus can be detrimental to your kidney health, and the danger increases many fold if you also take some other drugs that are damaging to kidneys. So tell your doctor beforehand if you take any other medications including OTCs or related products.
Contact or see your doctor right away if you experience symptoms of serious brain infections like change in mental state, altered speech or walking, or affected vision. These symptoms may occur light initially but deteriorate rapidly.
Before taking Tacrolimus
Don’t take Tacrolimus medication if you are allergic to tacrolimus, or hydrogenated castor oil, or if you have taken cyclosporine in the last 24 hours.
Tacrolimus lowers blood cells that primary bodyguard against infections. It can also cause your body to generate a large quantity of certain white blood cells. All of these can result in serious and sometimes fatal outcomes like cancer, serious brain infection that can cause disability or death, or your body catching a virus that can lead to failure of a transplanted kidney. Tacrolimus usage over a long time may also increase a likelihood of developing skin cancer. Ask your doctor about all the risks associated with this medication.
Tacrolimus is categorized as a FDA pregnancy category C drug. Effects of this drug on unborn baby are not known. Let your doctor know if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Tacrolimus can pass into breast milk and harm your baby. It is not recommended if you are nursing a baby.
Take Tacrolimus strictly after medical advice if you have kidney or liver disease; heart disease; high blood pressure; high cholesterol; if you also take sirolimus; or if you take other immunosuppressive drugs such as anticancer or steroids.
How should I take Tacrolimus?
You must take tacrolimus medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Don’t alter the prescribed dosage in any way unless or otherwise directed by your doctor who may occasionally change your dosage.
You may receive a tacrolimus injection initially after your transplant. Tacrolimus injection is given until you are prepared to take the oral pill form of it. Tacrolimus capsule is usually taken every 12 hours or basically twice each day. Instill a habit of taking the medicine at the same point of time each day.
Always store Tacrolimus medication in a cool and dry place. Ensure that children or pets don’t have access to it or any other medications.
What if I miss a dose of Tacrolimus?
Don’t forget to take the tacrolimus at the scheduled time. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember it. However don’t take the missed dose if time to take the next dose is almost near. Take the next dose on its time and follow the normal schedule. Never double dose on this or any medication.
What if I overdose?
In case of an overdose, seek emergency medical help or call the Doctor immediately.
Things and activities to avoid while taking Tacrolimus
Avoid grapefruit and related products while taking tacrolimus as grapefruit consumption along with tacrolimus can cause dangerous effects. Don’t go near sick people; let your doctor know immediately if you develop an infection.
Don’t get a live vaccine while taking tacrolimus. The vaccine will not be effective and at the same time lead to serious infections.
Tacrolimus Side Effects
Tacrolimus may lead to some serious side effects like skin hives, breathing difficulty, swelling in different places, fever, chills, bodyaches, flu symptopms, change in mental state, vision problems, speech and walking problems, pale or yellow colored skin, dark urine, weakness or confusion, concentration difficulty, light headedness, shortness of breath, increase heart rate, decrease urination, cough with mucus or blood, excessive sweating, tremors, increased potassium in blood (muscle weakness, tingy feeling), low magnesium (slow reflexes, jerky muscle movements), high blood pressure, or high sugar.
Some less serious side effects of tacrolimus are stomach pain, constipation, nausea, headache, insomnia, or swelling in limbs. All the side effects thus listed are non exhaustive and there may be other side effects. Contact your doctor for side effects advising.
Tacrolimus Dosing Information
Dosing of tacrolimus depends on various factors and your doctor may fix an appropriate dose for you after thorough examination and tests. Seriousness of condition, age, sex and a host of other factors are taken into consideration while deciding the dosage of tacrolimus. Strictly stick to the prescribed dosage for the best results.
Interaction with other drugs
Some of the drugs which can interact with tacrolimus are St John’s Wort; antacids like Maalox, Rolaids, Rulox, or others; antibiotics like evofloxacin, rifampin, or erythromycin; antidepressants like desipramine or nefazodone; antifungals like caspofungin, posaconazole, voriconazole or others; barbiturate like Phenobarbital; contraceptive pills or hormone replacement drugs; heart or blood pressure drugs like amiodarone, amlodipine, diltiazem; nifedipine, quinidine, or others; HIV/AIDS drugs like atazanavir, ritonavir or others; hepatitis C medications like telaprevir or boceprevir; seizure medications, steroid medications, or stomach acid reducers like lansoprazole, cimetidine or others. This list is a partial list of drugs which can interact with tacrolimus and there may be other drugs which can interact with it. Share your medical history and list of all present medications which you may be taking.