skip to main content
NZ Formulary

Printable Printable large type (2 pages) A4 Size PDF A5 Size PDF

Tacrolimus (for transplant patients)

ta-kroe-li-mus

What does it do?

Tacrolimus is an immunosuppressant used with other medicines to prevent transplant rejection.

How should you take it?

Take tacrolimus regularly as directed. You can take tacrolimus with or without food, but take it the same way each time.

What if you forget a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as possible. If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and carry on as normal. Do not take two doses at the same time.

Can you take other medicines?

Some medicines available without a prescription may react with tacrolimus including:

  • anti-inflammatories, such as diclofenac (e.g. Voltaren®), ibuprofen (e.g. Nurofen®), or aspirin (e.g. Disprin®, in doses used for pain relief). These can also be found in some cold and flu medicines (e.g. Nurofen Cold and Flu®).

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines or treatments that you may be taking, including vitamins, herbal products (e.g. St John's wort, echinacea) or recreational drugs.

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action

Increased risk of infection - symptoms may include: fever, chills, sore throat, aches and pains, tiredness, pain when peeing, mouth ulcers

Easy/unusual bruising or bleeding

Fast or irregular heartbeat, chest pain

Seizures

Tell your doctor immediately

Dizziness, pale skin

Hearing loss, ringing in the ears

Peeing more often, feeling thirsty

Swollen feet or legs, short of breath

Increased blood pressure

Tell your doctor

Headache, trouble sleeping

Cough

Joint, muscle or bone aches and pains, tremor, tingling or numbness

Acne, hair loss or thinning

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation

Tell your doctor if troublesome

If you notice any other effects, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other information:

  • Do not stop taking tacrolimus unless your doctor at the transplant clinic tells you to. You may have to take tacrolimus for the rest of your life.
  • You will need regular blood tests to measure the amount of tacrolimus in your blood. On the morning of the blood test, do not take your regular dose of tacrolimus until after the blood has been taken. Other blood tests will monitor how your kidneys are working and your cholesterol levels (tacrolimus can increase cholesterol).
  • Protect yourself from too much sunlight while taking immunosuppressant medicines (they may increase your risk of skin cancer). Always cover up and apply a thick layer of broad spectrum sunscreen (at least SPF30) when outside. Do not use sunbeds.
  • Use reliable contraception while taking tacrolimus. If you plan to become pregnant, or find you are pregnant, discuss this with your doctor. Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding.
  • Grapefruit, grapefruit juice or sour/Seville oranges may react with tacrolimus. Discuss with your pharmacist.
  • You have an increased risk of getting an infection while taking tacrolimus. Discuss with your doctor.
  • Tacrolimus affects your immune system. Before you start and while you are using it, check with your doctor what vaccines you might need. You should not have a live vaccine while using it.
  • It is important to tell anyone who gives you medical or dental treatment that you are taking tacrolimus.

This leaflet contains important, but not all, information about this medicine.

Prepared by the PILs Committee at Christchurch Hospital, Canterbury District Health Board, New Zealand. September 2018

For more general information about this sheet and its contents, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

Web links for this sheet in different formats

Click on buttons to copy web addresses for this leaflet:

If your browser does not automatically copy these links use its copy command instead.

About My Medicines

My Medicines Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) contain important, but not all, information about the medicines they describe.

For more information about the sheets, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

My Medicines is developed by a team at the Canterbury District Health Board. Our team is made up of doctors, pharmacists, and a non-medical person to help us keep to plain language. We also discuss our information with specialist health professionals or groups when needed