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    Information about Leflunomide

    Leflunomide uses

    Leflunomide is used in the treatment of Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.

    How leflunomide works

    Leflunomide blocks the action of certain chemical messengers that are responsible for inflammation, swelling and redness associated with certain autoimmune diseases. It suppresses the underlying disease process, rather than simply treating the disease.

    Common side effects of leflunomide

    Nausea, Headache, Dyspepsia, Rash, Diarrhea, Increased liver enzymes, Respiratory tract infection
    Content Details
    Written By
    Dr. Betina Chandolia
    MDS, BDS
    Reviewed By
    Dr. Lalit Kanodia
    MD (Pharmacology), MBBS
    Last updated on:
    27 Dec 2019 | 01:08 PM (IST)
    Want to know more?
    Read Our Editorial Policy

    Available Medicine for Leflunomide

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      3 variant(s)
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      Zydus Cadila
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    Expert advice for Leflunomide

    • You have been prescribed Leflunomide to control the symptoms and slow down the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.
    • It will take 6-8 weeks for Leflunomide to work. Hence, keep taking the medicine.
    • Get blood tests done every 4 weeks. This is to make sure that Leflunomide is not harming your liver or blood counts.
    • Avoid alcohol when taking Leflunomide as it could harm your liver.
    • Do not take it during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant while taking Leflunomide.
    • Leflunomide may increase the risk of infection. Avoid being close to people with cold, flu or other contagious illnesses.
    • Tell your doctor if you experience nausea or diarrhea.

    Frequently asked questions for Leflunomide


    Q. Can Leflunomide cause weight loss?

    Yes, Leflunomide may cause weight loss as a common side effect. However, weight loss due to this medicine is usually insignificant. The reason for this reduction in weight could be due to accompanying loss of appetite. Consult your doctor if your weight loss is significant.

    Q. Is Leflunomide an anti-inflammatory?

    Leflunomide belongs to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) class of medicines. It works by reducing inflammation and slowing the progress of the disease. This medicine can help patients with rheumatoid arthritis by improving their physical activity.

    Q. Is Leflunomide dangerous?

    Although not very common but Leflunomide may cause serious side effects. These may include liver damage, severe infections, serious skin reactions, blood cell deficiency, numbness and pain in hands and feet, and lung disease (interstitial lung disease). If you have any doubts, discuss with your doctor before starting treatment.

    Q. Can you drink alcohol on Leflunomide?

    You should avoid alcohol while on treatment with Leflunomide. This is because using them together may cause liver toxicity.

    Q. What monitoring is required during Leflunomide treatment?

    Your doctor will carry regular tests before and during treatment with Leflunomide to check your blood cells and liver function. Along with that, your doctor will check your blood pressure regularly as Leflunomide can cause an increase in blood pressure.

    Q. When should patients notify their doctor?

    The doctor should be informed if one has lung problems like cough, shortness of breath or if one observes symptoms of infection like fever, weakens, and flu-like symptoms. Along with that, if a person experiences allergic reactions like hives rashes and liver problems like yellowing of skin, loss of appetite then it should be consulted with the doctor. One should also inform the doctor if there is a decrease in blood cell count causing easy bruising and recurrent infections. In addition to that, the doctor should be informed if one becomes pregnant during the course of treatment.

    Q. Can I plan pregnancy after stopping Leflunomide?

    Leflunomide takes fairly long time to get flushed out of your system. Hence, you should not plan pregnancy for at least 2 years after stopping Leflunomide. This extensive time duration may be reduced to a few weeks by taking certain medicines which can help speed up the removal of Leflunomide from your body.

    Q. How long does it take to see improvement after starting Leflunomide?

    Leflunomide may take about 4 weeks or longer to show improvement in the condition. It may even take 4-6 months to show full benefits. Hence, the medicine should not be stopped if there is no significant improvement. For any further query consult your doctor who will analyze the condition.

    Q. Can Leflunomide cause cancer?

    Leflunomide may increase your chances of cancer especially of lymph system, but this is very rare. The reason could be decreased strength of the immune system caused by Leflunomide. Discuss with your doctor if you have concerns regarding it.

    Content on this page was last updated on 27 December, 2019, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)