CellCept (mycophenolate)

Also called CellCept and mycophenolate

CellCept is used to prevent organ rejection in people who have had a transplant and to treat some inflammatory conditions such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE/lupus). CellCept is also called mycophenolate.

What is CellCept?

CellCept belongs to a group of medicines known as immunosuppressive agents which work by suppressing your body’s own defence system (the immune system). It is mainly used in people who receive organ transplants (eg, kidney, liver or heart) to stop the body from rejecting a transplanted organ.

CellCept is also used to treat some inflammatory conditions such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE/lupus).

Dose

In Aotearoa New Zealand CellCept is available as tablets (500 mg), capsules (250 mg) and a liquid suspension. It is also available as an injection that is given in hospital.

  • The dose of CellCept is different for different people. Your doctor will calculate your dose based on your condition, blood test results and response to treatment.
  • Always take your CellCept exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much to take, how often to take it and any special instructions.

How to take CellCept?

  • Timing: CellCept is usually taken twice a day. It is best to take your doses about 12 hours apart, such as in the morning and at bedtime. 
  • Food: You can take CellCept with or without food. If it makes you feel sick (nauseous), try taking your dose with food. 
  • Capsules or tablets: Swallow the capsules or tablets whole with a glass of water. Do not chew or crush them.
  • Liquid suspension: Shake the medicine well. After each dose of suspension, have a glass of water. Use the measuring syringe provided to measure your dose – make sure you take the right amount (see below).
  • Missed dose: If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember. But if it is nearly time for your next dose, take the next dose at the right time. Do not take extra doses to make up for a forgotten dose. If you are not sure what to do, ask your healthcare provider.

Extra care is needed when taking CellCept

Make sure you take the right dose

CellCept tablets and capsules come in different strengths – tablets (500 mg) and capsules (250 mg). When you collect your CellCept prescription, check that your medicines are the right strength, and that you have the right number of tablets or capsules. If your medicine looks different to your last supply, get advice from your doctor or pharmacist.

If you are prescribed CellCept liquid suspension, use the measuring syringe provided within the package to measure your dose. Do not use a kitchen spoon as it will not give you the right amount. If you are not sure how to measure your dose or how to use the syringe provided, ask your pharmacist.

Taking other medicines and supplements

CellCept can interact with some medications, herbal supplements and rongoā Māori, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting CellCept and before starting any new products.

Protect yourself from the sun

CellCept makes your skin more sensitive to the sun. Protect your skin when you are in the sun, especially between 10am and 3pm. If outdoors, wear protective clothing and use a high factor sunscreen (SPF 30+). Read more about sun safety.

You will need regular blood tests 

While you are taking CellCept you will need to have regular blood tests. These check the treatment is working and check for side effects. 

Get the flu vaccine every year

Keep your flu vaccination up to date to reduce your risk of getting the flu. It is safe for you to have the annual flu vaccine. Some vaccines should not be taken if you are taking CellCept. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist first.

Pregnant or planning a pregnancy

CellCept should not be taken if you are pregnant. If either you or your partner are taking CellCept, talk to your doctor about contraception. If you or your partner wish to become pregnant, ask your doctor about stopping CellCept. Women should continue to use contraception for at least 6 weeks, and men for at least 3 months, after stopping treatment.

Tell your healthcare providers

Make sure you tell anyone providing you with health, dental or medical care that you are taking CellCept.

Possible side effects of CellCept

Like all medicines, CellCept can cause side effects although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Increased risk of infections

Because CellCept weakens your body's immune system, it can make getting infections more likely. These infections may be mild (eg, colds or sinusitis) or more severe such as tuberculosis (TB) and septicaemia (infection of the blood).

Tell your doctor immediately if you develop signs of infection such as fever, chills, sore throat or flu-like symptoms.

Other side effects

Side effects What should I do?
  • Feeling sick (nausea) 
  • Vomiting (being sick)
  • Diarrhoea (runny poo)
  • These are quite common when you first start taking CellCept.
  • Take your dose with food.
  • Tell your doctor if these side effects bother you.

  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Stomach, back, muscle or other pains
  • These are quite common when you first start taking CellCept and usually go away with time.
  • Tell your doctor if they bother you.
  • Signs of changes in your blood cells, such as fever, sore throat, mouth ulcers, easy bruising, nosebleeds, bleeding gums or shortness of breath
  • Changes in your blood cells are rare but serious.
  • Tell your doctor immediately or phone Healthline on 0800 611 116.
For more information on side effects, see the Medsafe consumer information leaflet/s below.

Did you know that you can report a medicine side effect to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM)? Report a side effect to a product.

Learn more

CellCept Medsafe Consumer Information, NZ 

References

  1. Mycophenolate mofetil New Zealand Formulary
Credits: Health Navigator Pharmacists. Reviewed By: Maya Patel, MPharm PGDipClinPharm, Auckland Last reviewed: 09 May 2022