methotrexate, Rheumatrex, Trexall

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What is methotrexate, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Methotrexate is classified as an antimetabolite drug which means it is capable of blocking the metabolism of cells. (Metabolism consists of the production and destruction of important components of the cell as well as the production of energy for use by the cell.) As a result of this effect, it has been found helpful in treating certain diseases associated with abnormally rapid cell growth, such as cancer of the breast and psoriasis. Recently, methotrexate has been shown to be effective in inducing miscarriage, for example in patients with ectopic pregnancy. This effect of methotrexate is attributed to its action of killing rapidly growing cells such as those of the placenta. It also has been found very helpful in treating rheumatoid arthritis, although its mechanism of action in this illness is not known. It seems to work, in part, by altering immunity which may play a role in causing rheumatoid arthritis. The FDA approved methotrexate in December 1953.

What brand names are available for methotrexate?

Otrexup, Rasuvo

Is methotrexate available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

Do I need a prescription for methotrexate?

Yes

What are the side effects of methotrexate?

Methotrexate can cause severe toxicity which usually is related to the dose taken. The most frequent reactions include:

  • mouth sores,
  • stomach upset;
  • low white blood counts;
  • severe toxicity of the liver, kidneys and bone marrow, which require regular monitoring with blood tests;
  • headache
  • drowsiness

Methotrexate can cause itching, skin rash, dizziness, and hair loss. A dry, non-productive cough can be a result of rare lung toxicity.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2015

Quick GuideRheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Symptoms & Treatment

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Symptoms & Treatment
FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

See more info: methotrexate on RxList
RxList Logo

Need help identifying pills and medications?

Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Arthritis Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors