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This medication is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, a condition in which the body's defense system (immune system) fails to recognize the body as itself and attacks the healthy tissues around the joints. Leflunomide helps to reduce the joint damage/pain/swelling and helps you to move better. It works by weakening your immune system and decreasing swelling (inflammation).

Why it’s used

Leflunomide oral tablet is used to treat active rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It can help reduce the pain in your joints and help you perform daily tasks better.

How it works

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system becomes overactive and attacks some parts of your body, such as your joints. Leflunomide works to block part of your immune system and proteins in your body that cause inflammation.

How to use Leflunomide

Take this medication by mouth with or without food, usually once daily or as directed by your doctor. Take this medication exactly as prescribed. You may be instructed to take a higher dose for the first 3 days of treatment.

Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to therapy.

Take this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time each day.

After treatment is stopped, a different drug (cholestyramine) may be given as directed to help remove leflunomide from your body. This procedure is used if you need a rapid removal of the drug from your system (e.g., a female/male planning to have children, a person suffering from severe side effects). Without the procedure, the drug may stay in your body for up to 2 years. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.

What are the side effects of leflunomide?

The most frequently reported side effects are:

  • diarrhea,
  • nausea,
  • headache,
  • rash,
  • itching,
  • loss or thinning of hair, and
  • weight loss.

Other warnings

Infection warning: This drug isn’t recommended if you have a weak immune system or serious infections. If you get a serious infection, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis, talk to your doctor to find out if you should stop taking this medication.

Nerve damage warning: This medication can damage the nerves in some people and cause numbness, tingling, or burning pain in the hands and feet. This can go away once the drug is stopped. However, some people continue to have symptoms.

Blood cell level warning: Your doctor may monitor your blood cell levels regularly. Talk to your doctor if you experience fevers, unusual tiredness, frequent infections, or bruise or bleed easily.