Leflunomide is a DMARD, disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug. It is used for the treatment of  the inflammatory arthritidies, such as rheumatoid, psoriatic, and others. It works by suppressing activated immune system.

The usual dose of leflunomide is 10 or 20 mg taken once daily.

This medication is contraindicated in patients who plans to have children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, in patients with chronic infections, blood, liver or kidney diseases. Alcohol use should be avoided while taking it.

This medication starts working after 6-8 weeks after its regular use but the maximum effects can take up to 3 months.

Medications that are used to treat rheumatological conditions are safe to be used with leflunomide. Sometimes it is used in so-called triple therapy for rheumatoid arthritis along with methotrexate and plaquenil.

Leflunomide’s most common side effects are:

  • nausea (it can be reduced by taking it with food) and diarrhea;
  • rash;
  • reversible hair thinning;

Rare side effects include:

  • increase in blood pressure;
  • elevation of liver enzymes and decrease in the blood counts (this is why it is important to have your blood work checked regularly);
  • fever or infections should be reported and medication should be held until it is reviewed by your doctor.

Sometimes reducing the dose or taken it every other day help to minimize its side effects.

Leflunomide can cause birth defects and miscarriage. Its use should be avoided in pregnancy. If you consider pregnancy in the nearest future  you should use other medication to treat your condition. If you became pregnant while taking leflunomide you should notify your doctor immediately.

Your pharmacist will give you the full list of the side effects when you buy the medication. Please, advise your pharmacist about other medications you take.