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    Sulfasalazine for Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Examples

    Generic Name Brand Name
    sulfasalazine Azulfidine, Sulfazine

    Sulfasalazine is a medicine formed from salicylic acid (the active ingredient in aspirin) and an antibiotic, sulfapyridine. It is given by mouth (orally) and is available in time-release tablets.

    How It Works

    Sulfasalazine reduces joint inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis and slows or stops the disease from getting worse. It is also often used to treat inflammatory bowel disease.

    Why It Is Used

    Sulfasalazine is used for early, milder cases of rheumatoid arthritis. It may be used with other medicines such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) for more active rheumatoid arthritis.

    People who have sulfa or salicylate allergies should not use this medicine.

    How Well It Works

    Studies show that sulfasalazine is effective in relieving the symptoms and slowing the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. It may take up to 3 months to notice an improvement.1

    Side Effects

    All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

    Here are some important things to think about:

    • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
    • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
    • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

    Call911or other emergency services right away if you have:

    Call your doctor right away if you have:

    Common side effects of this medicine include:

    See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

    What To Think About

    You could be sensitive to sunlight while taking sulfasalazine. Wear sunglasses, and use sunscreen.

    Taking medicine

    Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

    There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

    Advice for women

    If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.

    Checkups

    Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

    Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

    Citations

    1. Drugs for rheumatoid arthritis (2009). Treatment Guidelines From The Medical Letter, 7(81): 37-46.

    ByHealthwise Staff
    Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
    Specialist Medical ReviewerNancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology

    Current as ofSeptember 9, 2014

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 09, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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