Leflunomide

Description

Leflunomide is used alone or in combination with other medications for the treatment of symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis (a condition where your body's immune system attacks the small joints and damages them, causing symptoms such as pain and swelling in the joints, stiffness, decreased movement of the joints, etc.). This medicine works by modulating the activity of the immune system, thus reducing pain and swelling. Leflunomide may show side effects such as diarrhoea, vomiting, heartburn, headache, dizziness, etc. These side effects usually subside by themselves. However, consult your doctor if they persist or worsen. Do not drink alcohol during treatment with Leflunomide, as it may increase the risk of liver damage. Leflunomide is a prescription medicine. It may be taken with or without food. The dose and duration of treatment will be determined by your doctor based on your clinical condition. Avoid taking more than the prescribed dose. For ease of remembering, take this medicine at the same time every day. Take it for the recommended duration for best results. Leflunomide is not recommended for use if you are allergic to it. Avoid taking this medicine if you have liver problems due to the increased risk of liver damage. Also, inform you doctor about your pre-existing medical conditions and ongoing medications to make sure this medicine is safe for you. Leflunomide is not recommended for use in children below 18 years of age. This medicine is unsafe for use during pregnancy as it can cause harm to the developing foetus. Due to the lack of safety information, consult your doctor before taking this medicine if you are breastfeeding.

Side effects

Major & minor side effects for Leflunomide

  • Cough
  • Dizziness
  • Sore throat
  • Chest pain
  • Stomach pain
  • Joint pain
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Headache
  • Weight loss
  • Dry skin
  • Rash
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

Uses of Leflunomide

What is it prescribed for?

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
Read More
Concerns

Commonly asked questions

  • Onset of action
    The amount of time required for Leflunomide to show its action is not clinically established. However, it takes around four to six weeks to see the effects of this medicine on your symptoms.
  • Duration of effect
    The amount of time for which Leflunomide remains active in the body is not clinically established.
  • Safe with alcohol?
    Consumption of alcohol is not recommended during treatment with Leflunomide, as it may increase the risk of liver damage.
  • Is it habit forming?
    No habit-forming tendencies were reported for Leflunomide.
  • Usage in pregnancy?
    Leflunomide is unsafe for use during pregnancy as it may cause harm to your developing foetus. Hence consult your doctor if you are pregnant.
  • Usage while breast-feeding?
    It is not known if Leflunomide passes into breastmilk. If you are breastfeeding, consult your doctor to understand the potential risks and benefits before taking this medicine.

Allergy

Avoid taking Leflunomide if you are allergic to it. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms such as skin rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, breathing difficulty, etc.

Liver Disease

Leflunomide is not recommended for use if you have pre-existing liver conditions. This medicine breaks down in your liver and if you have impaired liver function, it may cause an accumulation of the medicine in the body, leading to liver toxicity.
Warnings for special population

Pregnancy

Leflunomide is unsafe for use during pregnancy as it may cause harm to your developing foetus. Hence consult your doctor if you are pregnant.

Breast-feeding

It is not known if Leflunomide passes into breastmilk. If you are breastfeeding, consult your doctor to understand the potential risks and benefits before taking this medicine.
General warnings

Vaccination

Vaccination with live vaccines is not recommended during treatment with Leflunomide. This medicine may make some of the vaccines less effective. Hence inform your doctor about the use of this medicine before getting vaccination.

Use in children

Leflunomide is not recommended for use in children below 18 years of age as the safety and efficacy data are not clinically established.

Driving or operating machines

Leflunomide may cause dizziness. Hence avoid driving vehicles or operating machines if you feel dizzy while taking this medicine.

Missed Dose

If a dose of Leflunomide is missed, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and take the next dose. Do not double the dose to make up for the missed one.

Overdose

Never take more than the recommended dose. Contact the doctor in case of an overdose of Leflunomide.
All drugs interact differently for person to person. You should check all the possible interactions with your doctor before starting any medicine.
Interaction with Alcohol

Description

N/A

Instructions

Consumption of alcohol is not recommended during treatment with Leflunomide, as it may increase the risk of liver damage.
Interaction with Medicine

Warfarin

Chlorpropamide

Teriflunomide

Disease interactions

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is the damage to the peripheral nerves (nerves that are present outside the brain and spinal cord). It causes weakness, numbness, and pain, usually in the hands and feet. There are several causes that can lead to peripheral neuropathy such as diabetes, injuries, and infections. Leflunomide should be used with caution if you have peripheral neuropathy due to the increased risk of worsening of the condition.

Immunosuppression

Immunosuppression is a condition in which your body's immune system is unable to fight infections and other diseases. Leflunomide should be used with caution as it may cause immunosuppression. It is not recommended for use in case of severe immunodeficiency states such as AIDS (Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus).

Pulmonary insufficiency

Leflunomide may cause interstitial lung disease (a group of lung disorders in which the lung tissues become inflamed and then damaged) or worsening of pre-existing interstitial lung disease. Hence it should be used with caution if you have a known history of interstitial lung disease (a group of lung disorders in which the lung tissues become inflamed and then damaged) as it may worsen your condition. Consult your doctor if you experience symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath, with or without associated fever.

Kidney disease

Leflunomide should be used with caution if you have kidney problems as it may worsen your condition.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection in the lungs. Leflunomide should be used with caution if you have active or latent tuberculosis as it may cause possible reactivation of the infection.

Hypertension

Hypertension is high blood pressure. Leflunomide can cause an increase in blood pressure. Hence, this medicine should be used with caution if you have high blood pressure as it may worsen your health condition. Keep a regular check of your blood pressure while taking this medicine.
Food interactions
Information not available.
Lab interactions
Information not available.
Take Leflunomide exactly as instructed by the doctor. It may be taken with or without food. Do not break, chew, or crush the tablet. Swallow as a whole with plenty of water. Do not take larger amounts than prescribed. Consult your doctor if you experience undesired effects that persist or worsen. Do not stop the use of this medicine without consulting your doctor, as your condition may become worse. This medicine should be used with caution as it may alter the immune activity and increase the risk of infections.
Miscelleneous

Can be taken with or without food, as advised by your doctor

To be taken as instructed by doctor

Does not cause sleepiness

How it works
Leflunomide works by modulating the activity of the immune system, thus reducing pain and swelling. It also delays the progression of the condition.
Legal Status

Approved

Approved

Approved

Approved

Classification

Category

Antirheumatics, Selective immunosuppressants

Schedule

Schedule H

Dailymed.nlm.nih.gov. 2021. DailyMed - LEFLUNOMIDE tablet. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 November 2021].

https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=c288d1d3-3fbe-4c34-a28a-923d515809b3

Drugs, H., 2021. Leflunomide: MedlinePlus Drug Information. [online] Medlineplus.gov. Available at: [Accessed 15 November 2021].

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a600032.html

Medicines.org.uk. 2021. Arava 10mg Tablets - Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) - (emc). [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 November 2021].

https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/4056/pil

How will this medicine affect me?

Consult top doctors online and get an answer now
Consult now
Consult now

Looking for a doctor?

Book an appointment with the top doctors near you
Book now
Book now
Something doesn’t feel right?
Report an error

Information on this page was last updated on 9 Sep 2022

Disclaimer

We’ve made all possible efforts to ensure that the information provided here is accurate, up-to-date and complete, however, it should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Practo only provides reference source for common information on medicines and does not guarantee its accuracy or exhaustiveness. The absence of a warning for any drug or combination thereof, should not be assumed to indicate that the drug or combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for any given patient. Practo does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information provided above. If you have any doubts about your medication then we strongly recommend that you consult with your doctor, nurse or healthcare provider. See detailed T&C here.