What do leflunomide tablets do?
LEFLUNOMIDE is a medication that reduces inflammation and swelling due to rheumatoid arthritis. The response of the immune system may contribute to rheumatoid arthritis. Leflunomide affects this system and is able to slow down the progression of the disease, especially in the affected joints. Leflunomide helps to treat all stages of adult rheumatoid arthritis. Leflunomide can be used with some of the other medications that are used to treat the inflammation and pain of this condition (for example, aspirin, other salicylates, or nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs like ibuprofen).
What should my health care professional know before I receive leflunomide?
They need to know if you have, or have ever had, any of these conditions:
• an alcohol problem
• anemia or other blood disorders
• cancer or cancer treatments (radiation therapy)
• an immune deficiency (natural or due to cancer, cancer chemotherapy, infection with the HIV virus or AIDS, radiation, or steroid therapy)
• fever or infection
• high blood pressure
• kidney disease
• liver disease
• an unusual or allergic reaction to leflunomide, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
• pregnant or trying to get pregnant
How should I use this medicine?
Take leflunomide tablets by mouth. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Swallow the tablets with a drink of water. You can take leflunomide with food or milk. Take your doses at the same time every day. Do not take your medicine more often than directed. Continue to take your medicine even if you feel better. Do not stop taking your medicine unless your prescriber or health care professional tells you to discontinue taking it.
Contact your pediatrician or health care professional regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed.
What if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.
What other medicines can interact with leflunomide?
• some anti-inflammatory medicines
• some vaccines
• troglitazone, and some other medicines for diabetes
Tell your prescriber or health care professional about all other medicines you are taking, including non-prescription medicines, nutritional supplements, or herbal products. Also tell your prescriber or health care professional if you are a frequent user of drinks with caffeine or alcohol, if you smoke, or if you use illegal drugs. These may affect the way your medicine works. Check with your health care professional before stopping or starting any of your medicines.
What side effects may I notice from receiving leflunomide?
A few side effects occur commonly with leflunomide. They include diarrhea, abdominal pain or nausea, rash, changes in hair texture or growth. In some persons, liver function can be altered. Sometimes the side effects can be more serious. Your prescriber or health care professional will be observing you closely and will monitor blood tests related to your medicine.
Side effects you should report to your prescriber or health care professional as soon as possible:
• dark yellow or brown urine
• diarrhea, especially if severe or does not stop
• difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• fever or chills, cough or sore throat
• increases in blood pressure, especially if you are being treated for high blood pressure
• pain in the stomach or abdomen
• skin rash or hives
• ulcers of the mouth or difficulty or pain on swallowing
• unusual bleeding or bruising, pinpoint red spots on the skin, nose bleeds or bleeding gums
• unusual tiredness or weakness
• yellowing of eyes or skin
Side effects that do usually do not require medical attention (report to your prescriber or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):
• change in the taste of foods or drinks
• changes in the appearance of the fingernails or toenails
• hair loss (reversible)
• itching of the skin
• loss of appetite
• nausea, indigestion, or vomiting
• weight loss
• worsening of joint pain
NOTE: This information is not intended to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions, or adverse effects for this drug. If you have questions about the drug(s) you are taking, check with your health care professional. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatment.