How Cellcept Works

Cellcept (mycophenolic acid) works by preventing certain types of cells from multiplying.

It targets an enzyme in the body called inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase that is important for creating new strands of DNA. By interfering with this process, Cellcept makes it difficult for cells to multiply. White blood cells that form part of the body’s immune system are particularly affected by this process.

In people with rheumatic disease, the immune system is attacking the body by mistake. Cellcept softens this attack by preventing immune system cells from replicating and making more of themselves. Although suppressing the immune system can make it slightly harder for patients to fight off infections, it can also help stabilize an overactive immune system.

Side Effects of Cellcept

Cellcept is a powerful medicine that requires regular blood tests to monitor for more serious side effects.

Side-effects of Cellcept include:

  • Nausea & feeling unwell – Some patients feel sick to their stomach or develop diarrhea when they take Cellcept. They should tell their doctor if this happens.
  • Headaches – Cellcept can cause headaches, dizziness, and difficulty sleeping.
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Rare brain infection – Some patients have very rarely developed a rare brain infection called PML while taking Cellcept.
  • Cancer – When used for long periods of time, mycophenolate may be associated with a small increased risk of skin or blood cancers.

People taking Cellcept should talk to their doctor if they are concerned about any side effects.

Cellcept can simply be stopped and does not need to be “weaned off”. Patients should tell their doctor if they stop taking this medicine.

Cellcept is not normally used in pregnancy. Patients who become pregnant or are breastfeeding while taking this medicine should tell their doctor.

Who Should NOT Take Cellcept

Patients who should NOT be taking Cellcept include:

  • Patients who have had a previous reaction to Cellcept
  • Women who are pregnant, planning on becoming pregnant, or are breast feeding
  • Patients with active infections
  • Possibly patients with a past history of cancer

Anyone who becomes pregnant while taking Cellcept should notify their doctor immediately.

When to Call a Doctor

People taking Cellcept should call their doctor if they feel sick and want to stop, or they are concerned about any side effects.

Other reasons to call a doctor while taking Cellcept include:

  • Nausea or Diarrhea
  • Fever or possible infection
  • Becoming pregnant or planning pregnancy
  • Before getting any vaccinations
  • Before any surgery