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Home > Wellness Resources > Health Library > Sulfasalazine for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Sulfasalazine is a combination of salicylic acid (the
active ingredient in aspirin) and an antibiotic, sulfapyridine.
Sulfasalazine may reduce joint
inflammation caused by
juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).
Sulfasalazine is considered a
second-line treatment for JIA. Its use is reserved for children with JIA who do
not respond to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or
methotrexate. Children who are allergic to sulfa medicines or salicylates
cannot use this medicine.
Some research shows that the use of
sulfasalazine is effective in the treatment of JIA, particularly children with
polyarticular JIA and
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine your child takes. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with the medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if your child has:
Call your doctor right away if your child has:
Common side effects of this medicine include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side
effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
systemic JIA are most likely to experience severe side
effects, so they are not treated with sulfasalazine.2
Positive effects from
sulfasalazine treatment can take 1 to 3 months to become apparent, which is
faster than some other second-line medicines.2
Sulfasalazine is considered safer, but is generally less effective, than
methotrexate. A child who can't take or hasn't responded to first-line NSAID
treatment or to methotrexate may be given sulfasalazine.
Your doctor may recommend a
complete blood count (CBC) every 6 to 12 months when
Your child may be sensitive to sunlight while taking sulfasalazine. Have your child use sunscreen and wear sunglasses.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. If your child takes medicine as your doctor suggests, it will improve your child's health and may prevent future problems. If your child doesn't take the medicines properly, his or her health (and perhaps life) may be at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Hashkes PJ, Laxer RM (2005). Medical treatment of
juvenile ideopathic arthritis. JAMA, 294(13):
Giannini EH, Brunner HI (2005). Treatment of juvenile
rheumatoid arthritis. In WJ Koopman, LW Moreland, eds., Arthritis and Allied Conditions, 15th ed., vol. 1, pp.
1301–1318. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
June 5, 2012
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics & John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
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