Prednisone is a glucocorticoid medication mostly used to suppress the immune system and decrease inflammation in conditions such as asthma, COPD, and rheumatologic diseases. It is also used to treat high blood calcium due to cancer and along with other steroids for adrenal insufficiency. It is taken by mouth.
Common side effects with long term use include cataracts, bone loss, easy bruising, muscle weakness, and thrush. Other side effects include weight gain, swelling, high blood sugar, and psychosis. It is generally considered safe in pregnancy and low doses appear to be okay when breastfeeding. After prolonged use prednisone needs to be stopped gradually.
Prednisone was patented in 1954 and approved for medical use in the United States in 1955. It is available as a generic medication. In the United States the wholesale cost per dose is less than US$0.30 as of 2018. In 2016 it was the 31st most prescribed medication in the United States with more than 23 million prescriptions.