If you have been diagnosed with a type of cancer called acute lymphatic leukemia, you may receive a chemotherapy medication called mercaptopurine (Purinethol®). This prescription medicine is specifically approved for the maintenance treatment of ALL, in combination with other treatments. It is not effective at preventing ALL from spreading to the central nervous system and will not treat central nervous system leukemia.
Mercaptopurine, also known as 6-mercaptopurine or simply 6-MP, comes as a tablet that is taken once daily. It is usually recommended to take your dose in the evening, on an empty stomach.
Brand-name mercaptopurine (sold under the name Purinethol) is made by DSM Pharmaceuticals, Inc., for Teva Biologics and Specialty Products. The generic versions of the drug are made by various companies.
(Click Mercaptopurine for a closer look at what this chemotherapy drug is used for, how it works, and dosing instructions. It also describes possible side effects and explains why this drug is not appropriate for some people.)