Leukemia Home > Purinethol

If you have acute lymphatic leukemia, your healthcare provider may prescribe a chemotherapy medication called Purinethol. This drug comes as a tablet that is taken once a day on an empty stomach, usually in the evening. Side effects are common and include low counts of platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells.

What Is Purinethol?

Purinethol® (mercaptopurine) is a prescription medication approved for the treatment of acute lymphatic leukemia (ALL), a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow. It is normally used in combination with other treatments. Acute lymphatic leukemia is also sometimes called acute lymphocytic or acute lymphoblastic leukemia.   
Purinethol belongs to a group of medicines called purine analogs. The active ingredient in the medication is mercaptopurine. Healthcare providers may also refer to it as 6-mercaptopurine or simply 6-MP.
(Click Purinethol Uses for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes This Medication?

Purinethol is made by DSM Pharmaceuticals, Inc., for Teva Biologics and Specialty Products.

How Does Purinethol Work?

Purinethol is similar in structure to purines, which are natural substances in the body that help make up DNA. Cells incorporate Purinethol into their structure, where the drug interferes with certain reactions that are important for DNA to replicate. Because DNA replication is necessary for cells to divide, Purinethol slows down the growth of cancer cells and causes the cancer cells to die.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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