Kidneys Home > Rapamune Side Effects

In clinical studies, up to 58 percent of people taking Rapamune reported swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or legs. Other common side effects included increased cholesterol and high blood pressure, among others. If you develop any problems while taking Rapamune, or if something "just doesn't seem right," let your healthcare provider know right away.

An Introduction to Rapamune Side Effects

Just like any medicine, Rapamune® (sirolimus) can cause side effects. However, not everyone who takes the medication will have problems. In fact, most people tolerate it quite well. If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or are treated easily by you or your healthcare provider.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with Rapamune. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list with you.)

Common Side Effects With Rapamune

Rapamune has been studied extensively in clinical trials. In these studies, the side effects that occurred in a group of people taking the drug were carefully documented and compared to the side effects that occurred in a group of people taking a placebo (a "sugar pill" with no active ingredients). As a result, it was possible to see what side effects occurred, how often they appeared, and how they compared to the placebo.
In these studies, common Rapamune side effects included:
  • Swelling (edema) of the hands, feet, ankles, or legs -- in up to 58 percent of people
  • Increased cholesterol or triglycerides (lipids or fats in the blood) -- up to 57 percent
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) -- up to 49 percent
  • Increased creatinine levels (a sign of kidney problems) -- up to 40 percent
  • Constipation -- up to 38 percent
  • Abdominal pain (stomach pain) -- up to 36 percent
  • Diarrhea -- up to 35 percent
  • Headache -- up to 34 percent
  • Fever -- up to 34 percent
  • Urinary tract infection -- up to 33 percent
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count) -- up to 33 percent
  • Nausea -- up to 31 percent
  • Joint pain -- up to 31 percent.
Other common reactions, occurring in 3 to 30 percent of people, included:
  • Low level of platelets in the blood (blood cells that help the blood to clot)
  • Pain
  • Acne
  • Rash
  • Edema (swelling) in the body
  • Cysts
  • Shingles
  • Cold sores
  • Increased heart rate
  • Blood clots 
  • Ulcers or inflammation in the mouth
  • Nosebleeds
  • Low levels of potassium in the blood (hypokalemia)
  • Poor wound healing
  • Death of bone tissue (bone necrosis)
  • Infections, including pneumonia, kidney infection, and sepsis (a serious infection of the blood)
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Menstrual disorders, such as absent menstrual bleeding or heavy menstrual bleeding.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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