How Neoral Works

Neoral works by reducing the activity of T-cells, a type of white blood cell that plays an important part in the body’s immune system.

Neoral binds to a protein cyclophilin (immunophilin) found on the surface of white blood cells, especially T-cells. This triggers a chain of reactions that reduces the function of these cells.

In preventing T-cells from working normally, Neoral suppresses a part of the body’s immune system. Although this suppression may make it slightly harder for patients to fight off infections, it also helps to stabilize an overactive immune system.

Side Effects of Neoral

Patients should talk to their doctor if they are concerned about any side effects when taking Neoral.

Neoral can irritate the liver. Regular blood tests are important for doctors to monitor blood counts and make sure that the liver or kidneys are not being harmed. Patients should drink 8-10 glasses of water per day to flush the kidneys.

MINOR side-effects include:

  • Nausea, bloating, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.
  • Fatigue, weakness, muscle cramps, tremors, and flushing
  • Headaches
  • Tingling in the fingers, toes, tip of the nose, tongue, or lips.
  • Increased hair growth on the arms, back of the hands, above the lip, or on the side of the face
  • Tender, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Swelling of the ankles – Patients should tell their doctor if they experience this side effect

RARE side-effects include:

  • Kidneys – Neoral may affect kidney function. Kidney function is monitored closely with blood tests while you are taking Neoral. When monitored closely, any change in kidney function is usually reversible by reducing the dose or stopping the Neoral.
  • High Blood Pressure –Neoral may cause an increase in blood pressure. If this should happen, the dose of your Neoral may be adjusted or a medication to control your blood pressure may be prescribed.
  • Infection – Any infections or fevers should be taken seriously and reviewed by your doctor.
  • Liver – Neoral may irritate the liver. This does not usually cause symptoms but may be found on blood tests. It is rare and usually reversible when regularly monitored with your monthly blood tests.
  • Malignancy – When used for long periods of time, Neoral may be associated with a small increased risk of lymphoma and skin cancers. These cancers may be reversible when the medication is stopped.

How to minimize the side-effects of Neoral:

  • Regular monitoring is important. Patients should take Neoral as prescribed, get regular blood tests, and attend all appointments with their doctor.
  • Patients should drink 8 to 10 glasses of water per day (1.5 liters) to help kidney function.
  • Patients should report any infections to their doctor.

Who Should NOT Take Neoral

People who should NOT take Neoral include:

  • Patients who have had a previous serious reaction to Neoral
  • Women who are pregnant, planning on becoming pregnant, or are breast feeding
  • Some patients with diseases of the liver or kidney
  • Patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Patients with active uncontrolled infections
  • Possibly patients with a past history of cancer
  • Patients with other diseases which affect the immune system (e.g. HIV)

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

When to Call a Doctor

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

Other reasons to call a doctor while taking Neoral include:

  • New high blood pressure
  • Fever or possible infection
  • Pregnant or planning pregnancy
  • Severe new headache
  • Upcoming surgery

Neoral Video

Watch Dr. Andy Thompson, a Canadian rheumatologist, introduce Neoral.