By Grant J. Anhalt, M.D. and Hossein Nousari, M.D.
Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine
In February 1997, the FDA approved a new drug, mycophenolate mofetil (MFM, also known as Cellcept) with an approved indication for use in immunosuppression of patients that have received renal transplants, to prevent graft rejection. MFM is actually a new variant of a drug that has been studied for about 20 years. The active metabolite, Mycophenolic acid (MPA) had been used in the past for the treatment of severe recalcitrant psoriasis.
Although MPA was shown to be a useful drug, it was withdrawn due to a high incidence of side effects, primarily infections such as herpes zoster ("shingles") and gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea and stomach discomfort. MFM is the reformulated product that does not have these same drawbacks, and has better bioavailability than MFA.