The Asthma Center

Methotrexate

Methotrexate is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is currently available for treating adult rheumatoid arthritis, severe psoriasis (a skin disease) and certain cancers.

Over the past several years, scientific reports have described the use of methotrexate in very difficult-to-treat asthma. This treatment may be used when, in addition to standard asthma drugs, you have required frequent oral corticosteroid treatment or prolonged use of daily oral corticosteroids. The use of methotrexate may help reduce the amount of oral corticosteroids needed as well as help decrease the risks of their side effects.

Although methotrexate is not approved for use by the FDA as an asthma medication, the experience of The Asthma Center specialists and the medical literature suggests that the potential benefits of methotrexate if you are steroid-dependent, especially regarding its potential to decrease your need for oral corticosteroids, outweigh its potential side effects.

Use
Methotrexate is usually given as a weekly intramuscular injection or orally on a weekly basis.

Risks and Precautions
Methotrexate may cause the following side effects:
 

  • Nausea and/or stomach discomfort
     
  • Headache
     
  • Dizziness
     
  • Skin rash or itchy skin
     
  • A decrease in the blood cell count
     
  • Pneumonia

As with any drug, there may be unanticipated side effects. The amount of the drug administered for asthma treatment is relatively low (much lower than the dosage used for treatment of cancer), and therefore the possibility of these side effects is generally decreased. After prolonged usage of methotrexate, there is a risk of inflammation and/or injury to the kidneys, lungs, or liver and/or increased risk of infection. These potential side effects are carefully monitored during follow-up visits with your asthma specialists.