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Leflunomide - Side Effects, Precautions, and Contraindications

What side effects can Leflunomide cause?

Symptom frequently improves with time or medications given to prevent diarrhea. If diarrhea persists, the dose of leflunomide may need to be reduced, as decided by your doctor.

Less common side effects include nausea, stomach pain, indigestion, rash, or hair loss.

It may cause abnormal liver function tests or decreased blood cell or platelet counts.

Rarely, it may cause lung problems such as cough, shortness of breath or lung injury.

Before taking Leflunomide , what precautions must I follow?

Come back to the hospital for regular blood test as instructed by your doctor.

Because adverse effects can happen at any time during the course of treatment and some side effects may not cause symptoms, it is really important that you have your regular blood and eye test. 

What food or medicine must I avoid when I take Leflunomide ?

    What special DIETARY instructions should I follow?

  • Alcohol should be avoided if possible or kept to a minimum as suggested by your rheumatologist because alcohol may increase the risk of liver toxicities associated with leflunomide.

    Can I take other MEDICINES or SUPPLEMENTS?

  • You should not take leflunomide if you have a pre-existing liver disease such as hepatitis or cirrhosis.

  • Leflunomide can cause liver injury, so alcohol and certain other medications should be avoided e.g. rifampicin; blood test should be performed regularly to monitor liver function.\Certain medications e.g. cholestyramine can reduce the efficacy of leflunomide.

  • You should avoid live vaccines such as live polio, yellow fever, rubella (German measles), MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), typhoid and BCG (tuberculosis). Flu and pneumococcal vaccines are safe and may be given if required.
  • Updated on 6/12/2015 12:00:00 AM
  • Article contributed by Pharmacy, Rheumatology & Immunology Singapore General Hospital
The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth


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