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Musculoskeletal Services

Leflunomide

Why are you taking it?

Leflunomide is a treatment for active rheumatoid arthritis. It acts by damping down inflammation in joints It has no direct pain relieving effect, so you will need to continue your other arthritis tablets, at least for some time. It may take from 6 to 12 weeks to get the full effect from the Leflunomide.

If it is suitable, you can stay on treatment for several years if necessary.

How and when is it to be taken?

Leflunomide treatment usually starts with a ‘loading dose’ of 100mg daily for 3 days and then continues in a dose of 10 or 20mg daily.

You can take Leflunomide with or without food.

If you forget to take a dose of Leflunomide do not double the dose up next time.

It is easier to remember if you take the dose at roughly the same time every day.

Can you take other medicines with Leflunomide?

It is safe to take Leflunomide with most other medicines used to treat arthritis. Always tell the doctor if you are taking medicines for epilepsy or diabetes, and if you are taking Cholestyramine.

Are there any side effects and what are they?

All medications can cause side effects, so it is a question of balancing the risk of side effects against the benefits of treatment. Possible side effects include:

  • Nausea and sickness.
  • Diarrhoea and abdominal discomfort.
  • Headaches, dizziness, raised blood pressure and weakness.
  • Skin rashes and increased hair loss.
  • Blood and liver function problems, which is why you have the regular blood tests.

Where appropriate we advise you to use a reliable method of contraception during and for 2 years after finishing treatment.

It is best to use little or no alcohol while on Leflunomide.

Vaccination with live vaccines is not recommended while on treatment with Leflunomide.

Why is careful monitoring so important?

Monitoring of the effects of your new treatment is important and we need to check your blood regularly - this is usually every 2 weeks for the first 6 months, then every 8 weeks.

If unable to attend, please telephone for another appointment.

If you have any questions, queries or worries about your treatment please contact the nursing staff on (0191) 223 1156 9.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday.
After hours ring (0191) 284 3111 and ask for Ward 20.


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