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What is Methotrexate?

Drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis symptomsMethotrexate is a drug which works to impede the growth of specific cells within the body, mostly cells which can reproduce rapidly, including skin cells, bone marrow cells, and cancer cells. This drug has been in use for more than 60 years now, and it was originally developed as a treatment for people who had been diagnosed with cancer of the breast, skin, lung, or neck. Now, methotrexate is often used to treat people who have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis or severe psoriasis.

(If you have been struggling with rheumatoid arthritis, then you may be interested in enrolling in our RA clinical trial in Birmingham, AL.)

When taking methotrexate, it is very important that you adhere to your prescribed dosage given your medical condition. For most patients, methotrexate will only need to be taken once a week (in some cases maybe twice a week), but it is not supposed to be taken every day. This drug can cause potentially life-threatening side effects when misused, so please follow the instructions on your prescription label.

Things to Remember about Methotrexate

Be sure to discuss your prescription with your doctor, as they will be sure to clear up any possible confusion that you might have concerning your methotrexate dosage. Methotrexate can have serious adverse effects on your lungs, liver, kidneys, and bone marrow (via the immune system’s response).

If you are taking methotrexate for rheumatoid arthritis, then you should not be taking more than you were prescribed or take it longer than you were prescribed. If you are  breastfeeding a baby, have any form of liver disease, or have some form of bone marrow or blood cell disorder, then you should not be taking methotrexate for your rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis. Clinical studies have shown that methotrexate can cause certain birth defects in unborn children. This drug should never be taken by anyone who is pregnant, and birth control should be used by anyone who is currently taking it (notify your doctor ASAP if you do become pregnant while taking this medication).

Routine Testing and Other Medications

In order to ensure that you do not experience any lasting harmful side effects while taking methotrexate, you will need to have your blood tested routinely. These tests will help your doctors spot any potential changes that could be harmful. Some patients may also need to have their liver and kidney function tested while taking methotrexate too.

There are a number of other medications which could have a potentially dangerous reaction when they interact with methotrexate. So, your doctor will need to know about any other drugs (both prescription and over-the-counter) that you might be taking before you start on methotrexate. You should not start taking a new form of medication while on methotrexate without first consulting your doctor.