What is Leflunomide (Arava)

Leflunomide is a Disease Modifying Anti Rheumatic Drug (DMARD) designed specifically to treat inflammatory arthritis.

FDA approved:

September 1998

Brand Names and International Availability:

Arava (US)

How does it work?

Designed specifically to treat inflammatory arthritis, it works on the immune system and is able to slow down the progression of the disease, especially in the affected joints.


Arava is usually started with a loading dose of 100mg per day for 3 days, followed by a maintenance dose of 20mg per day.

How should I take it?

This medication should be taken with a glass of water, with or without food.


Caution should be used when giving this medication to people with known kidney problems.

Pregnancy should be avoided if either partner is taking Leflunomide.

It is not known whether leflunomide is excreted in human milk, nursing mothers should not take leflunomide.

Use of leflunomide in patients less than 18 years of age is not recommended.

Drugs Interactions:

Because of the potent nature of this medicine, be sure to tell your doctor about any other medicines you are taking, including nonprescription medicines and vitamins.

Possible side effects:

These side effects are not considered serious but are certainly annoying for those experiencing them. The most frequently reported side effects include dry mouth, insomnia, hair loss, nausea, diarrhea, tiredness, and acne.

More serious side effects that you should report right away include dark yellow urine, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, increases in blood pressure, and yellowing of the skin or eyes.

Signs of a possible allergic reaction are rash, swelling and difficulty breathing. These symptoms should be reported immediately.

Leflunomide has the potential to cause liver damage.

The drug is relatively new, so long term side effects may not yet be known.

Precautions & Special Notes:

You will be required to have frequent blood work while on this medication. It is very important that you keep all lab and doctor’s appointments.

Leflunomide suppresses the immune system. Avoid exposure to illnesses and viruses when possible.

For more information:
RxList Leflunomide
Pharm Info Net Leflunomide

Mosby’s GenRx®, 10th ed. Copyright © 2000 Mosby, Inc.