leflunomide - oral, Arava (cont.)
USES: This medication is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, a condition in which the body's defense system (immune system) fails to recognize the body as itself and attacks the healthy tissues around the joints. Leflunomide helps to reduce the joint damage/pain/swelling and helps you to move better. It works by weakening your immune system and decreasing swelling (inflammation).OTHER This section contains uses of this drug that are not listed in the approved professional labeling for the drug but that may be prescribed by your health care professional. Use this drug for a condition that is listed in this section only if it has been so prescribed by your health care professional.This drug may also be used to prevent rejection of organ transplant.
HOW TO USE: Take this medication by mouth with or without food, usually once daily or as directed by your doctor. Take this medication exactly as prescribed. You may be instructed to take a higher dose for the first 3 days of treatment.Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to therapy.Take this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time each day.After treatment is stopped, a different drug (cholestyramine) may be given as directed to help remove leflunomide from your body. This procedure is used if you need a rapid removal of the drug from your system (e.g., a female/male planning to have children, a person suffering from severe side effects). Without the procedure, the drug may stay in your body for up to 2 years. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.Inform your doctor if your symptoms persist or worsen.
SIDE EFFECTS: Diarrhea, nausea, and dizziness may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.Tell your doctor immediately if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: cough, numbness/tingling of hands/feet, hair loss, chest pain, fast/pounding heartbeat, increased thirst/urination, muscle cramp/pain, mental/mood changes, vision changes.Tell your doctor immediately if any of these rare but very serious side effects occur: easy bruising/bleeding, unusual growths/lumps, swollen glands (lymph nodes), unexplained weight loss, unusual tiredness.This medication can lower the body's ability to fight an infection. Tell your doctor immediately if you develop any signs of an infection such as fever, chills, or persistent sore throat.A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any of the following symptoms of a serious allergic reaction: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.Leflunomide can commonly cause a mild rash that is usually not serious. However, you may not be able to tell it apart from a rare rash that could be a sign of a severe allergic reaction. Therefore, seek immediate medical attention if you develop any rash.This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.In the US -Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
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