What is it?
Cyclosporin is a drug that affects the immune system in the body (i.e. an immunosuppressant).
Indications for use
The main use is in organ transplantation for prevention of donor organ rejection. It is being increasingly used to control difficult inflammatory conditions, such as, rheumatoid arthritis and severe ulcerative colitis, which are not responding to standard therapy.
How is it taken?
It is usually given intravenously during an in-patient stay and the dose is calculated according to body weight. The doctor will work out the correct dose and regime for your case. Once remission has been achieved [usually up to 7 days] the drug will be given in tablet form.
Due to the potential adverse effects on the kidneys (nephrotoxicity), it is extremely important to have regular blood checks whilst taking the medication. It is also possible, although less likely, that the blood cells in the bone marrow and also the liver may be affected. The monitoring tests should be as follows:
Initially these tests should be carried out on a 2 weekly basis for 3 months then monthly thereafter whilst continuing on the treatment.
NB: Any abnormality on testing should be reported to the doctor or IBD nurse immediately for further advice.
This drug should not be taken if you have impaired kidney function. It is best avoided in pregnancy. If you are planning a pregnancy or become pregnant whilst taking the treatment you should speak to your doctor as soon as possible for further advice. You should not breastfeed whilst on treatment.
Are there any side effects?
It is possible that some side effects may occur during treatment. These
may include some of the following:
Some of these effects may settle as treatment becomes established, or may respond to a dose reduction. Medication may be needed to control blood pressure, excessive hair growth may require depilitory cream and sore gums may improve with oral hygiene products. You should contact your doctor or IBD nurse for further advice if these measures fail to improve the symptoms.
Other side effects may occur, but less frequently such as:
Although this list of possible side effects may seem quite alarming, it does not mean that you will have all, or indeed any of them. The fact that your doctor has decided that this treatment is required to help control your symptoms, means that you have a difficult disease that needs strong medication to bring it under control and therefore reduce the risks of complications as well as possibly avoid the need for surgery.
You should be reassured that you will be closely monitored whilst taking this treatment and if any side effects do arise that these will be dealt with accordingly.
Your compliance with the monitoring is essential in the safety of your treatment.
Are there any special precautions?
Other drugs or foods can sometimes affect the absorption of your medication,
or react with it to cause unpleasant effects.
Other medications which can cause interactions, include:
There may be other important considerations and therefore, you should let your doctor know about all your regular medications before starting treatment. Do not start any new medications without speaking to your doctor or IBD nurse first.