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Leflunomide is used to treat inflammation of joints, swelling, difficulty in moving and pain in joints in people with arthiritis (rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthiritis).

How it works

Leflunomide belongs to group of medicines called anti-rheumatic drugs. It reduces inflammation by suppressing the activity of immune cells (lymphocytes) responsible for the inflammation.

Common side effects

Nausea, Tingling sensation of extremity, Numbness of extremity, Pale red skin, Itchy rash, Diarrhoea, Dizziness, Dry skin, Hair loss, Headache, Loss of appetite, Weakness, Weight loss


Expert advice

  • Do not drive or operate machinery because you may feel sleepy or dizzy while being treated with leflunomide.
  • Do not start leflunomide, if you have a kidney, liver, blood or lung problem; have low level of proteins in blood (hypoproteinemia), low level of any blood cells, or suffering from any disease with lowered immunity like tuberculosis or AIDS.
  • Do not start leflunomide, if you have intolerance to some sugars because this medicine contains lactose (a type of sugar).
  • Do not take leflunomide, if you are going to receive any live vaccine; or if you experience a widespread rash with blisters and peeling skin (Stevens-Johnson syndrome), widespread peeling of the superficial layers of the skin (toxic epidermal necrolysis),or drug reaction with eosinophilia and systematic symptoms (DRESS).
  • Avoid using leflunomide, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, breastfeeding.

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is leflunomide an NSAID, immunosuppressant, blood thinner, chemotherapeutic agent?
No, leflunomide is not an NSAID, blood thinner or chemotherapeutic agent. It is an immunosuppressant anti-rheumatic drug.
Q. Can I take Tylenol (acetaminophen), or ibuprofen with leflunomide, or Arava?
You can take Tylenol or ibuprofen with leflunomide or Arava which is brand name of leflunomide.
Q. Does leflunomide cause weight or hair loss, bruising, high blood pressure, nausea, cancer, fatigue, or weight gain?
Leflunomide may cause weight or hair loss, bruising, high blood pressure, and nausea (urge to vomit), but it is not known to cause weight gain, fatigue or cancer.
Q. Does leflunomide help psoriasis?
Yes, leflunomide is used in the treatment of psoriasis.

Content on this page was last updated on 04 October, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)