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Generic Name: mercaptopurine (mer KAP toe PURE een)
Brand Name: Purixan
Physician reviewed Purixan patient information - includes Purixan description, dosage and directions.
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Drug Information:
Purixan is used to treat acute lymphoblastic or lymphocytic leukemia. This medicine is sometimes given with other cancer medications. Purixan may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide. You should not use Purixan if you have ever used Purixan or thioguanine and they were not effective in treating your condition. Some people using Purixan have developed a rare fast-growing type of lymphoma (cancer). This condition affects the liver, spleen, and bone marrow, and it can be fatal. Learn more

Purixan Side Effects

Purixan Side Effects

Note: This document contains side effect information about mercaptopurine. Some of the dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Purixan.

For the Consumer

Applies to mercaptopurine: oral suspension, oral tablet

Along with its needed effects, mercaptopurine (the active ingredient contained in Purixan) may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking mercaptopurine:

More common

  • Black, tarry stools
  • clay colored stools
  • cough or hoarseness
  • dark urine
  • decreased appetite
  • fever or chills
  • headache
  • loss of appetite
  • lower back or side pain
  • nausea, vomiting
  • painful or difficult urination
  • pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • rash, itchy skin
  • stomach pain or tenderness
  • swelling of the feet or lower legs
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • yellow eyes or skin

Less common

  • Bleeding gums
  • chest pain
  • joint pain
  • pale skin
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
  • swollen glands
  • trouble with breathing upon exertion

Incidence not known

  • Constipation
  • diarrhea
  • heartburn
  • indigestion
  • joint pain, stiffness, or swelling
  • stomach cramping or burning
  • vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds

Some side effects of mercaptopurine may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

Less common

  • Darkening of the skin
  • headache

Incidence not known

  • Hair loss or thinning of the hair
  • low sperm count

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to mercaptopurine: oral suspension, oral tablet


Very common (10% or more): Bone marrow suppression (e.g., anemia, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia) (more than 20%)


Frequency not reported: Hyperuricemia


Common (1% to 10%): Stomatitis, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Pancreatitis, oral ulceration

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Intestinal ulceration


Common (1% to 10%): Biliary stasis, hepatotoxicity

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Hepatic necrosis

Frequency not reported: Hepatotoxicity


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Skin rash

Rare (less than 0.1%): Facial edema, alopecia

Frequency not reported: Photosensitivity reaction


Rare (less than 0.1%): Transient oligospermia


Frequency not reported: Fetotoxicity


Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Neoplasms including lymphoproliferative disorders, skin cancers (melanomas and non-melanomas), sarcomas (Kaposi's and non-Kaposi's), uterine cervical cancer in situ

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Secondary leukemia, myelodysplasia

Frequency not reported: Hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Bacterial and viral infections, infections associated with neutropenia, drug fever

Frequency not reported: Immunosuppression, macrophage activation syndrome


Common (1% to 10%): Anorexia

Frequency not reported: Hypoglycemia In patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) (IBD is not an approved indication of this drug)

Nervous system

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Arthralgia


Postmarketing reports: Portal hypertension

Editorial References and Review

Medically reviewed by BestRx Medical Team Last updated on 1/1/2020.

Source: Drugs.com Purixan