Mycophenolate is the active ingredient in two anti-rejection medications (CellCept and Myfortic). This medicine helps prevent the body from rejecting a transplanted kidney, heart, or liver by weakening the immune system, making it less likely to attack the new organ. It comes in many forms, including tablets, capsules, and an oral liquid suspension. Common side effects include pain, nausea, and constipation.
Mycophenolate (CellCept®, Myfortic®) is a prescription medication that belongs to the group of drugs known as immunosuppressants. It is available in two forms: as mycophenolate mofetil in CellCept and mycophenolate sodium in Myfortic. Mycophenolate sodium is also sometimes referred to as mycophenolic acid or mycophenolate acid.
Although CellCept and Myfortic both contain forms of mycophenolate, they are not the same medication. The body handles these two forms of mycophenolate differently. In fact, the body breaks down mycophenolate mofetil and converts it into mycophenolate sodium.
Mycophenolate mofetil is approved to prevent organ rejection in people who have received a heart, kidney, or liver transplant, while mycophenolate sodium is only approved to prevent rejection in people who have received a kidney transplant. Both forms are used in combination with other medications.
Another difference is that mycophenolate sodium (Myfortic) comes as a specially coated, delayed-release tablet that bypasses the stomach and dissolves in the intestines. Mycophenolate mofetil is not delayed-release.
Mycophenolate sodium and mycophenolate mofetil are not interchangeable. Therefore, if you need to switch from one brand or type of mycophenolate to another, only do so under the supervision of your healthcare provider. If you happen to receive a mycophenolate product that looks unfamiliar to you, check with your pharmacist to make sure you received the correct drug.
(Click What Is Mycophenolate Used For? for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)