Meds and you

27 September 2013


Ciclosporin is an immuno-suppressant. They are drugs that slow the body's immune system in an attempt to keep it from mistakenly fighting healthy tissues.


Ciclosporin is the active ingredient of CicloHexal capsules (Nappi code: 899208-002, 899216-005), CicloHexal oral solution (Nappi code: 899221-005), Sandimmun injection (Nappi code: 762296-003) and Sandimmun neoral capsules (Nappi code: 702045-001, 815926-006, 815918-003).

General information

Ciclosporin is an immuno-suppressant. Immuno-suppressants are drugs that slow the body's immune system in an attempt to keep it from mistakenly fighting healthy tissues. This is of particular use following organ transplants, when the patient's immune system may reject the transplanted organ, unless the immune system is controlled.

In South Africa ciclosporin is registered for the treatment of use after a variety of transplants, including kidney, liver, pancreas, heart, lung and bone marrow transplants. It is also indicated for the treatment of severe psoriasis, and severe acute rheumatoid arthritis and severe atopic dermatitis, where conventional therapy is ineffective or inappropriate.

For this medication to be effective, it has to be taken regularly, even if you do not notice an immediate effect. The decision to stop using this medication should only be made by your doctor.

Because this type of medicine increases the risk of certain types of cancer, particularly skin cancer, it is advised that you minimise sun/UV exposure and make use of protective measures to protect your skin.

Ciclosporin lowers the body's ability to fight infection. Try to avoid infections by avoiding crowds or people who have infections. You should furthermore avoid vaccinations while being treated with this medication.

How does ciclosporin work?

Your white blood cells play an integral part in your body's immune system. Ciclosporin works by suppressing certain functions of these white blood cells, thereby weakening the effect of your immune system.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 4

Available as: siclosporin is available as capsules, oral solution and injection.

What does it do? Ciclosporin slows the body's immune system in an attempt to keep it from mistakenly fighting healthy tissues, such as after an organ transplant.

Overdose risk: medium

Dependence risk: low

Is ciclosporin available as a generic? yes

Is ciclosporin available on prescription only? yes

User information

Onset of effect: within 12 hours

Duration of action: up to 3 days

Dietary advice: can be taken with food. Avoid grapefruit juice.

Stopping this medicine: do not stop taking this drug without consulting your doctor.

Prolonged use: regular liver and kidney tests should be performed, and blood levels of ciclosporin should be monitored regularly.

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have a kidney or liver disease
  • you have an infection of some sort
  • you have a blood disorder
  • you have any chronic illness
  • you pregnant or plan to fall pregnant
  • you are breastfeeding

Pregnancy: avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.

Breastfeeding: avoid. This medication is passed through breastmilk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: avoid. This medication may cause serious adverse effects. Consult your doctor before use.

Infants and children: a reduced dose is advised.

The elderly: caution is advised in the elderly as side effects are more likely to occur.

Driving and hazardous work: no special precautions need to be taken.

Alcohol: avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication.

Possible side effects

Side effects Frequency
Consult your doctor

Common Rare Only if severe In all cases
tremor x
gum swelling x
high blood pressure x
excessive bosy hair growth x
nausea x
headache x
x x
signs of infection


Drug interactions

Ciclosporin may interact with a large number of medicines. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medicine, including over-the-counter medicines.

Overdose action

A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention.

Interesting fact

Ciclosporin has been investigated as a possible neuro-protective agent in conditions such as traumatic brain injury, and has been shown in animal experiments to reduce brain damage associated with injury.


This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only.

Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.


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