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Leflunomide

Leflunomide is the general form of the proprietary Arava medicinal product.
Leflunomide belongs to a class of drugs called antidiarrheal disease modifying drugs (DMARDs). It works by suppressing blood cells that cause inflammation.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved leflunomide in 1998.

Edit Warnings

Leflunomide can cause serious liver problems that can lead to death.
Immediately notify your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms while taking this medication:

  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Urine of dark color
  • Bright chair
  • Pain in the upper right side of the abdomen
  • Severe or persistent nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising

Your doctor will closely monitor the functioning of your liver while you are taking this medicine.
Do not take leflunomide if you have any problems with the liver.
Drinking alcohol when you take leflunomide may increase the risk of liver complications. Tell your doctor if you drink or have ever consumed a large amount of alcohol.
In addition, tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following medicines before you start taking pleflunomide:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Advil or Motrin and Aleve or Naprosyn
  • Laniazid, Rifamate or Rifater
  • Methotrexate
  • Rifadin, Rimactane, Rifamate or Rifater

Leflunomide can reduce the ability of your body to fight infections.
Immediately notify your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms while taking this medication:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Red, swollen or painful skin
  • Difficult, painful or frequent urination

Do not take a vaccine when taking leflunomide without first discussing this matter with your doctor.
Tell your doctor if you are prone to infections or if you currently have an infection.
Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had tuberculosis, communicated with someone who had tuberculosis or traveled to areas where it is common.
Also, let your doctor know if you have or have ever had:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)

Leflunomide can cause high blood pressure. Your health care provider will probably want to check your blood pressure before you prescribe the drug.
Leflunomide can cause birth defects and other serious problems in children.
This medicine can remain in your body for up to two years after you stop taking it.
Both women and men using leflunomide should use effective contraceptive methods to prevent pregnancy until your doctor recommends it.
If you are a man who wants to become the father of a child, talk with your doctor about stopping leflunomide and go through therapy that will help to remove the medicine from your body faster.

Pregnancy and Leflunomide

Leflunomide can harm an unborn baby.
Do not take this medication if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
You will need to use an effective form of contraception before taking leflunomide, during your treatment and for two years after the end of treatment.
Call your doctor right away if you think you can get pregnant with leflunomide.
Tell your doctor if you want to get pregnant within two years after stopping the medication. Your health care provider can prescribe a treatment that will help you get this drug out of your body faster.
It is not known whether leflunomide passes into breast milk and whether it can harm a baby. Do not breast-feed while taking this medicine.

Leflunomide: side effects

Tell your doctor if any of the following side effects become serious or persistent:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Dizziness
  • Weight loss
  • Light Muscle Pain
  • Backache
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss

Serious side effects

Immediately notify your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms listed in the “Alerts” section above, or any of the following serious side effects:

  • Rash with or without fever
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Itching
  • Blisters on the skin, eyes, or nose
  • Thoracic pain
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Pale skin
  • A new or worsening cough
  • Leg cramps
  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • Pain, burning, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Severe or persistent headache or dizziness
  • Changes in vision
  • Signs of severe allergic reaction (may include hives, shortness of breath, chest tightness, or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue)

leflunomid

Leflunomide: interactions

Tell your doctor about all the medicines that you take, especially those listed in the “Warnings” section above, and any of the following:

  • Blood solvents such as (Warfarin)
  • Prevalit
  • Ridaur (Auranofin)
  • Medicines for cancer treatment
  • Other drugs that suppress the immune system, such as Azasan or Imuran, Genghraf, Neoral or Sandimun, Rapamun (Sirolimus) and Astagraf or Prograf
  • Cuprimine or Depen (Penicillamine)

Leflunomide and other interactions

Leflunomide can cause dizziness. Do not drive until you know how this medicine affects you.

Leflunomide and alcohol

Drinking alcohol when taking leflunomide can worsen certain side effects and increase the risk of developing liver problems.
Talk with your doctor before drinking alcohol while using this medication.

Dosage

Leflunomide is supplied in the form of a tablet, which must be taken through the mouth, usually once a day.
Your doctor may start with a higher dose of leflunomide during the first few days of treatment.
When you take this medicine, carefully follow the instructions or the prescription. Do not take more or less leflunomide than your doctor recommends.
It may take four weeks or more before you notice the benefits of leflunomide.
Continue to take this medicine even if you feel well. Do not stop using it without first talking to your doctor.

Overdose

Symptoms of overdose may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Inconsistent Breath
  • Severe palpitations

If you suspect an overdose, immediately contact a poison control center or an emergency room.

Missed dose of leflunomide

If you miss a dose of leflunomide, take it as soon as you remember.
But if it’s time to take the next scheduled dose, skip it and continue your usual schedule of taking medication.
Do not take additional medication to make up for the missed dose.

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