GENERIC NAME: METHOTREXATE - ORAL (METH-oh-TREX-ate)
WARNING: Methotrexate has infrequently caused serious (sometimes fatal) side effects. Therefore, this medication should be used only to treat cancer or severe diseases caused by an overactive immune system (such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis).
Methotrexate has caused birth defects and death in unborn babies. Women must avoid becoming pregnant while taking this medication. Pregnant women who have psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis must not use methotrexate. (See also Precautions section.)
Methotrexate (usually at high dosages) has rarely caused severe (sometimes fatal) blood/bone marrow problems (decreasing your body's ability to fight infections) and stomach/intestinal disease (such as bleeding) when used at the same time as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs such as indomethacin, ketoprofen). Therefore, NSAIDs should not be used with high-dose methotrexate. Caution is advised if you also take aspirin. NSAIDs/aspirin may be used with low-dose methotrexate such as for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis if directed by your doctor. If your doctor has directed you to take low-dose aspirin for heart attack or stroke prevention (usually at dosages of 81-325 milligrams a day), you should continue taking it unless your doctor instructs you otherwise. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details on the safe use of these drugs (such as close monitoring by your doctor, keeping the same doses of NSAIDs).
Methotrexate use has rarely caused serious (sometimes fatal) side effects, such as lung problems, lung infections (Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia), skin reactions, diarrhea, and mouth sores (ulcerative stomatitis). (See also Side Effects section.)
Lumps (tumors/abnormal growths) may very infrequently appear during methotrexate use. The drug must be stopped and treatment may be needed. Tell your doctor right away if new lumps/growths occur.
When used to treat tumors, methotrexate sometimes causes side effects due to the rapid destruction of cancer cells (tumor lysis syndrome). To lower your risk, drink plenty of fluids unless your doctor directs you otherwise. Also, your doctor may prescribe an additional medication. Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms such as irregular heartbeat, low back/side pain, pink/bloody urine, change in amount of urine, painful urination, or muscle spasms/weakness.
When this medication is used with radiation treatment, it may rarely increase the risk of tissue and bone damage. Discuss the risks and benefits of your treatment with your doctor.
USES: Methotrexate is used to treat certain types of cancer or to control severe psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis that has not responded to other treatments. It may also be used to control juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Methotrexate belongs to a class of drugs known as antimetabolites. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells and suppressing the immune system.Early treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with more aggressive therapy such as methotrexate helps to reduce further joint damage and to preserve joint function.OTHER This section contains uses of this drug that are not listed in the approved professional labeling for the drug but that may be prescribed by your health care professional. Use this drug for a condition that is listed in this section only if it has been so prescribed by your health care professional.This medication may also be used for lupus and psoriatic arthritis.
HOW TO USE: Read the Patient Information Leaflet if available from your pharmacist before you start taking methotrexate and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.Methotrexate is a strong medication. The dosage and how often you take this medication are based on your medical condition and response to treatment. There are many different dosing schedules for this medication (especially for cancer treatment). Therefore, it is very important that you follow your doctor's instructions carefully. Take this medication by mouth as directed by your doctor.For the treatment of psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis, take this medication by mouth as directed by your doctor, usually once a week. It may take up to several months before you get the full benefit of this drug.Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often or for longer than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster, and your risk of side effects will increase.Since this drug can be absorbed through the skin and lungs and may harm an unborn baby, women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not handle this medication or breathe the dust from the tablets.Drink plenty of fluids while taking this medication unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Doing so helps your kidneys to remove the drug from your body and avoid some of the side effects.
SIDE EFFECTS: See also Warning section.Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, drowsiness, or dizziness may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.Temporary hair loss may occur. Normal hair growth should return after treatment has ended.Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: mouth sores, diarrhea, signs of anemia (such as unusual tiredness, pale skin), signs of liver problems (such as dark urine, persistent nausea/vomiting, stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes/skin), easy bruising/bleeding, black stools, enlarged glands/lymph nodes, bone pain, unusual pain and discoloration of the skin, change in the amount of urine, dry cough, muscle weakness.Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: weakness on one side of the body, neck stiffness, severe headache, vision changes, irregular heartbeat, mental/mood changes, seizures.This medication may lower your ability to fight infections. This may make you more likely to get a serious (rarely fatal) infection or make any infection you have worse. Tell your doctor right away if you have any signs of infection (such as fever, chills, persistent sore throat, cough).This medication can affect sperm production, an effect that may lower male fertility. Consult your doctor for more details.A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.In the US -Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
PRECAUTIONS: See also Warning section.Before taking methotrexate, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: liver disease, kidney disease, lung disease (such as pulmonary fibrosis), alcohol use, suppressed immune system, blood cell/bone marrow disorders, stomach/intestinal diseases (such as peptic ulcer, ulcerative colitis), any active infection (including chickenpox or recent exposure to it), folic acid deficiency.Methotrexate can make you more likely to get infections or may worsen any current infections. Therefore, wash your hands well to prevent the spread of infection. Avoid contact with people who have infections that may spread to others (such as chickenpox, measles, flu). Consult your doctor if you have been exposed to an infection or for more details.Do not have immunizations/vaccinations without the consent of your doctor. Avoid contact with people who have recently received live vaccines (such as flu vaccine inhaled through the nose).To lower the chance of getting cut, bruised, or injured, use caution with sharp objects like razors and nail cutters, and avoid activities such as contact sports.This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages.Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).This medication may make you more sensitive to the sun. Avoid prolonged sun exposure, tanning booths, and sunlamps. Use a sunscreen and wear protective clothing when outdoors.Methotrexate must not be used during pregnancy. It may harm an unborn baby. It is important to prevent pregnancy during and after treatment with methotrexate. Therefore, males and females must use reliable forms of birth control (such as condoms, birth control pills) during treatment. Males should continue to use birth control for at least 3 months after the end of treatment. Females should continue to use birth control for at least 1 menstrual cycle after the end of treatment. If you become pregnant or think you may be pregnant, tell your doctor immediately.Since this drug can be absorbed through the skin and lungs and may harm an unborn baby, women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not handle this medication or breathe the dust from the tablets.Methotrexate passes into breast milk and may harm a nursing infant. Therefore, breast-feeding while using this drug is not recommended. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
DRUG INTERACTIONS: See also Warning section.Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.Some products that may interact with this drug include: acitretin, asparaginase, chloramphenicol, leflunomide, other drugs that can cause kidney problems (such as cisplatin), other drugs that can cause liver problems (such as azathioprine, sulfasalazine, retinoids such as isotretinoin), penicillins, phenytoin, probenecid, procarbazine, pyrimethamine, sulfa medications, tetracyclines.Certain drugs that reduce stomach acid (proton pump inhibitors-PPIs such as esomeprazole, omeprazole, pantoprazole) may increase the amount of methotrexate in your blood. This effect may increase the risk of side effects, especially with high-dose methotrexate treatment. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for details and ways to lessen the risk of side effects.
Latest Arthritis News
OVERDOSE: If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include severe nausea and vomiting, and bloody stools.
NOTES: Do not share this medication with others.Laboratory and/or medical tests (such as complete blood cell counts, liver and kidney function tests, pregnancy test, chest X-ray) should be performed before you start treatment, periodically to monitor your progress, or to check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.
MISSED DOSE: It is important to take each dose at the scheduled time. If you miss a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist immediately to establish a new dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
STORAGE: Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets.Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.MEDICAL ALERT: Your condition can cause complications in a medical emergency. For information about enrolling in MedicAlert, call 1-888-633-4298 (US) or 1-800-668-1507 (Canada).
Information last revised January 2014. Copyright(c) 2014 First Databank, Inc.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
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.
Top methotrexate Related Articles
Ankylosing SpondylitisAnkylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that causes chronic inflammation of the spine. The tendency to develop ankylosing spondylitis is genetically inherited. Treatment incorporates medications, physical therapy, and exercise.
Atopic Dermatitis PictureThis condition is the most common of all pediatric dermatoses. See a picture of Atopic Dermatitis and learn more about the health topic.
Crohn's DiseaseCrohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease, primarily involving the small and large intestine, but which can affect other parts of the digestive system as well. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss are common symptoms.
IBS vs. IBD: Differences and Similarities
IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) are both problems with the digestive tract (gastrointestinal or GI tract), but they are not the same disease. IBS is a functional disorder (a problem with the way the GI tract functions), and IBD is a disease that causes chronic prolonged inflammation of the GI tract, that can lead to ulcers and other problems that may require surgery. The most common forms of IBD are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, or UC.
Researchers do not know the exact cause of either disease, but they believe that IBS may be caused and triggered by a variety of factors (foods, stress, and the nervous system of the GI tract), while IBD may be genetic or due a problem with the immune system.
Common symptoms of both diseases are an urgent need to have a bowel movement, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain and cramping.
There are differences between the signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, for example, symptoms unique to IBD are:
- Joint pain or soreness
- Skin changes
- Rectal bleeding
- Eye redness or pain
- Unintentional weight loss
- Feeling tired
Symptoms unique to irritable bowel syndrome include:
- Sexual problems
- Abdominal bloating
- Whitish mucous in the stool
- Changes in bowel movements and in the way stools look
- An urgent need to urinate
- Urinating frequently
Treatment for IBS is with diet recommendations from a doctor or nutritionist, medication, and lifestyle changes like stress management and avoiding foods that trigger the condition. Treatments for IBD depend upon the type of disease, its symptoms, and health of the patient. Surgery may be necessary for some individuals.
Brown, AC, et al. "Existing Dietary Guidelines for Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis." Medscape.
Lehrer, J. "Irritable Bowel Syndrome." Medscape. Updated: Apr 04, 2017.
Rowe, W. "Inflammatory Bowel Disease." Medscape. Updated: Jun 17, 2016.
Romanowski, A, MS, RD. "Matching the Right Diet to the Right Patient." Medscape. Jan 27, 2017.
Liver DiseaseLiver disease can be cause by a variety of things including infection (hepatitis), diseases, for example, gallstones, high cholesterol or triglycerides, blood flow obstruction to the liver, and toxins (medications and chemicals). Symptoms of liver disease depends upon the cause and may include nausea, vomiting, upper right abdominal pain, and jaundice. Treatment depends upon the cause of the liver disease.
Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC)
Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBS) is a liver disease in which bile building up in the organ damages bile ducts. Ultimately, this can cause liver failure. A number of drugs are available to treat this disease of unknown cause, but the only ultimate cure is a liver transplant.
PsoriasisPsoriasis is a long-term skin condition that may cause large plaques of red, raised skin, flakes of dry skin, and skin scales. There are several types of psoriasis, including psoriasis vulgaris, guttate psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, and pustular psoriasis. Symptoms vary depending on the type of psoriasis the patient has. Treatment of psoriasis may include creams, lotions, oral medications, injections and infusions of biologics, and light therapy. There is no cure for psoriasis.
Severe Psoriasis PicturesLearn about the common skin condition psoriasis. Explore about the different types of psoriasis such as vulgaris (plaque psoriasis), guttate psoriasis, and scalp psoriasis. Discover different psoriasis treatment options.
Psoriasis QuizTake the mystery out of psoriasis. Take the Psoriasis Quiz and see what you know about the types, symptoms, treatments and more.
Psoriasis SlideshowWhat is psoriasis? Explore psoriasis treatment options such as topical ointments, phototherapy, natural remedies and more. Learn about psoriasis symptoms, causes and treatment. View psoriasis pictures of different types of nail, plaque, and scalp psoriasis.
Psoriatic Arthritis SlidesWhat is psoriatic arthritis? Psoriatic arthritis is an arthritis type that comes with psoriasis (skin inflammation). Psoriatic arthritis symptoms often affect hands and fingers. Learn more symptoms of psoriatic arthritis here.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints, as well as other organs in the body. Because it can affect multiple other organs of the body, rheumatoid arthritis is referred to as a systemic illness and is sometimes called rheumatoid disease. The 16 characteristic early RA signs and symptoms include the following.
- Both sides of the body affected (symmetric)
- Joint deformity
- Joint pain
- Joint redness
- Joint stiffness
- Joint swelling
- Joint tenderness
- Joint warmth
- Loss of joint function
- Loss of joint range of motion
- Many joints affected (polyarthritis)
RA SlideshowWhat is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)? Learn about juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Discover rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
RA QuizHow is rheumatoid arthritis different from other forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and gout? Take the Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Quiz to rest your RA IQ.
ScleritisScleritis is inflammation of the white part of the eye. It may be caused by a serious underlying condition, such as an autoimmune disease. Symptoms include redness, pain, tearing, sensitivity to light, and decreased visual acuity. Treatment may include eye drops as well as treatment for any underlying disease process. Scleritis cannot be prevented.
Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE)Systemic lupus erythematosus is a condition characterized by chronic inflammation of body tissues caused by autoimmune disease. Lupus can cause disease of the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, and nervous system. When only the skin is involved, the condition is called discoid lupus. When internal organs are involved, the condition is called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Ulcerative ColitisUlcerative colitis is a chronic inflammation of the colon. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding. Ulcerative colitis is closely related to Crohn's disease, and together they are referred to as inflammatory bowel disease. Treatment depends upon the type of ulcerative colitis diagnosed.
Ulcerative Colitis QuizWhat is ulcerative colitis and what risks are associated with suffering over the long term? Take this Ulcerative Colitis Quiz to learn causes, symptoms, and treatments for this painful digestive disorder.