Do not take leflunomide if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Leflunomide may harm the fetus. You should not begin taking leflunomide until you have taken a pregnancy test with negative results and your doctor tells you that you are not pregnant. You must use an effective method of birth control before you begin taking leflunomide, during your treatment with leflunomide, and for 2 years after treatment. If your period is late or you miss a period during treatment with leflunomide, call your doctor immediately. Talk to your doctor if you plan to become pregnant within 2 years after stopping treatment with leflunomide. Your doctor can prescribe a treatment that will help to remove this medication more quickly from your body.
Leflunomide may cause liver damage that can be life-threatening and even cause death. The risk for liver damage is greatest in people taking other medications known to cause liver damage, and in people who already have liver disease. Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had hepatitis or any other type of liver disease and if you if you drink or have ever drunk large amounts of alcohol. Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking acetaminophen (Tylenol, in other over-the-counter products), aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs such as ibuprofen [Advil, Motrin] and naproxen [Aleve, Naprosyn], cholesterol-lowering medications (statins), hydroxychloroquine, iron products, isoniazid (Laniazid, in Rifamate, in Rifater), methotrexate (Trexall), niacin (nicotinic acid), or rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane, in Rifamate, in Rifater). If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately: nausea, extreme tiredness, unusual bleeding or bruising, lack of energy, loss of appetite, pain in the upper right part of the stomach, yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark-colored urine, or flu-like symptoms.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain tests to check your body's response to leflunomide.
Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking leflunomide.
Leflunomide is used alone or in combination with other medications to treat rheumatoid arthritis (a condition in which the body attacks its own joints, causing pain, swelling, and loss of function). Leflunomide is in a class of medications called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). It works by decreasing inflammation and slowing the progress of the condition, which can help improve the physical activity of people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Leflunomide comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day. Your doctor may tell you to take a larger dose of leflunomide for the first 3 days of treatment. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take leflunomide exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Your doctor may need to decrease your dose or stop treatment if you experience certain severe side effects. Be sure to tell your doctor how you are feeling during your treatment.
Leflunomide may help control the symptoms of your rheumatoid arthritis but does not cure it. Continue to take leflunomide even if you feel well. Do not stop taking leflunomide without talking to your doctor.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Before taking leflunomide,
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
Leflunomide may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING or SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS section, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:
Receiving medications which suppress the immune system may increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer. An increase in cancers was not reported in clinical studies with leflunomide to date. Talk to your doctor about the risks of receiving leflunomide.
Leflunomide may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online ( Web Site) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom) and light.
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website ( Web Site) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. Web Site
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at Web Site. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
Symptoms of overdose may include the following:
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.