What is leflunomide?
Leflunomide is an oral medication used for treating adult patients suffering from moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. It belongs to a class of drugs called disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
How does it work?
Leflunomide is an immunosuppressant that works by suppressing the immune system to reduce inflammation that causes pain and swelling in rheumatoid arthritis.
How should you take leflunomide tablets?
Leflunomide is usually given as a 20 mg tablet once daily. Swallow the tablet whole and with plenty of water. It may take about several weeks until you start to feel an improvement in your condition.
Take Leflunomide Tablets exactly as per your doctor advice. Check with your doctor if you are not sure.
What do you need to know when you take leflunomide tablets?
- Regular laboratory testing to monitor blood counts and liver function is important while taking leflunomide.
- Alcohol increases the risk for liver damage while taking leflunomide, so alcohol should be avoided.
- You can feel dizzy with leflunomide treatment as it may impair your ability to concentrate and react. Do not drive or use machines if you have such symptoms.
- During leflunomide therapy live vaccines must not be taken.
- Leflunomide increases the risk of having a baby with serious birth defects. Women of childbearing potential must not take Leflunomide tablets without use of reliable contraception measures.
- Leflunomide is not recommended for use in children or adolescents under 18 years of age
Do not take Leflunomide Tablets:
- if you are allergic to leflunomide, or any of the other ingredients of this medicine.
- if you have pre-existing liver problems.
- if you have kidney problems.
- if you have severely low numbers of proteins in your blood (hypoproteinaemia).
- if you suffer from any problem which affects your immune system (e.g AIDS)
- if you have any problem with your bone marrow, or if you have low numbers of red or white cells in your blood or a reduced number of blood platelets.
- if you are suffering from a serious infection.
- if you are pregnant, think you may be pregnant, or are breast-feeding, leflunomide increases the risk of having a baby with serious birth defects.
What are the possible side effects of leflunomide tablets?
- The most common side effect of leflunomide is diarrhoea and this symptom improves gradually with time.
- Less common side effects include nausea, stomach pain, indigestion, rash, and hair loss.
- In a few patients, leflunomide can cause abnormal liver functioning or decreased blood cell or platelet counts.
- Lung problems, such as cough, shortness of breath or lung injury, can occur rarely with leflunomide.
What should you tell your doctor while on leflunomide treatment?
- You should contact your doctor if you develop symptoms of an infection, such as a fever or cough, or if you think you are having any side effects.
- Tell your doctor immediately and stop taking leflunomide if you experience weakness, feel light-headed or dizzy, have difficulty breathing, or if you develop a skin rash or mouth ulcers as these may be signs of a serious allergic reaction,
- Remember to tell your doctor if you are taking, have recently taken or might take any other medicines. The effectiveness and safety of leflunomide tablets may get affected by other medications.
- Any medications that can affect the liver should be used with caution with leflunomide. The risk of liver toxicity may be increased if leflunomide is combined with such other medications.
- Talk to your doctor if you plan to have any surgery while taking leflunomide as it can increase the risk of post-operative infections and/or slow the healing of your wounds.
- Be sure to let your doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, think you might be pregnant, or are planning to have a baby, consult your doctor for advice before taking this medicine.
- Breastfeeding is not recommended while taking leflunomide.
- Men taking leflunomide should talk to their doctor prior to making plans to have a baby.
- https://www.rheumatology.org/Portals/0/Files/Leflunomide-Arava-Fact-Sheet.pdf Accessed on 18 March 2021
- Prescribing information. Lefumide Tablets. Last updated: March 2019