GENERIC NAME: tacrolimus
BRAND NAME: Prograf, Astagraf XL, Hectoria
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Tacrolimus is a drug that suppresses the immune system and is used to prevent rejection of transplanted organs. Tacrolimus accomplishes its immune-suppressing effect by inhibiting an enzyme (calcineurin) that is crucial for the multiplication of T-cells which are vital to the immune process. The use of oral tacrolimus allows transplantation specialists to reduce the dose of steroids which also are used to prevent rejection. This "steroid-sparing effect" is important because of the many side effects that can occur when larger doses of steroids are used for a long period of time. Tacrolimus was approved by the FDA in April, 1994 for liver transplantation and also has been used in patients for transplantation of the heart, kidney, small bowel, and bone marrow.
SIDE EFFECTS: Tacrolimus is associated with many and various side effects. These include:
- loss of appetite,
- high concentrations of potassium in the blood,
- high blood pressure,
- tingling sensation in the extremities,
- high blood sugar concentrations, and
- abdominal pain.
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