GENERIC NAME: leflunomide
BRAND NAME: Arava
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Leflunomide is an oral, disease-modifying drug that is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Leflunomide reduces inflammation in the joints that is responsible for both the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and the destruction of joints. This reduces symptoms as well as the progressive deformities of the joints caused by the arthritis. Leflunomide reduces inflammation by suppressing the activity of immune cells responsible for the inflammation. Leflunomide suppresses immune cells by inhibiting dihydroorotate dehydrogenase, an enzyme that is necessary for the production of DNA and RNA. Without DNA and RNA the immune cells (and most other types of cells) cannot multiply or function (or exist). Because of its unique and different mechanism of action, leflunomide is of value when added to other medications used for treating rheumatoid arthritis. Leflunomide was approved by the FDA in September 1998.
PRESCRIBED FOR: Leflunomide is used in adults for the treatment of active rheumatoid arthritis. It reduces the signs, symptoms, and joint damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis. It also improves physical function.
SIDE EFFECTS: The most frequently reported side effects are:
Other important side effects of leflunomide include:
Quick GuideRheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms and Treatment
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