DISEASE-MODIFYING ANTIRHEUMATIC DRUG (DMARD)
Sulfasalazine is a prescription medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996 to treat pain and swelling associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Sulfasalazine is sometimes prescribed to treat psoriatic arthritis.
Sulfasalazine is not appropriate for people with porphyria, intestinal or urinary blockages, or sensitivities to related classes of drugs including sulfonamides or salicylates. Sulfasalazine should be used with caution by people who have a history of liver or kidney problems, severe allergies, bronchial asthma, or blood dyscrasias.
Sulfasalazine is a combination of two drugs, salicylic acid (the active ingredient in Aspirin) and sulfapyridine (a sulfa-based antibiotic). Sulfasalazine is classified as a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD). Sulfasalazine is believed to work by reducing the amount of several pro-inflammatory substances in the body.
How do I take it?
Sulfasalazine is taken orally in tablet form one or more times daily with meals. Swallow the tablets whole; do not crush or chew them. Take Sulfasalazine with food and a full glass of water to help prevent stomach upset.
Your doctor may order regular complete blood count (CBC) and liver function tests before you begin taking Sulfasalazine and regularly during the time you are taking Sulfasalazine.
Always follow your doctor’s instructions exactly when taking Sulfasalazine.
An article published in 2012 reviewed scientific literature on the use of DMARDs and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen to treat psoriatic arthritis. Researchers concluded that DMARDs including Sulfasalazine are effective and safe treatments.
Common side effects of Sulfasalazine include nausea, upset stomach, vomiting, loss of appetite, sores in the mouth, unusual fatigue, headache, and dizziness.
Tell your doctor if you serious side effects such as pain during urination, less frequent or no urination, ringing in the ears, finding a whole tablet of Sulfasalazine in your stool, chest pain, a blistering or peeling rash, or flu symptoms such as fever and sore throat.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience signs of liver problems, such as yellowing of the skin or eyes, bruising easily, pain or swelling in the abdomen, black stools, or vomit that contains blood or what looks like coffee grounds.
In rare cases, Sulfasalazine can cause serious liver and kidney problems, blood disorders, and central nervous system problems including meningitis and convulsions.
Many drugs can cause allergic reactions that, in the most serious cases, can result in death. Seek immediate medical help if you experience signs of a severe allergic reaction such as difficulty breathing or swelling in the face, throat, eyes, lips, or tongue.