Leflunomide and Side Effects

Dr. John Wade, MD, FRCPC, Rheumatologist, talks about possible side effects when taking Leflunomide for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis.

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Dr. John Wade, MD, FRCPC, Rheumatologist, talks about possible side effects when taking Leflunomide for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis.
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Video transcript

Featuring Dr. John Wade, MD, FRCPC, Rheumatologist

Duration: 1 minute, 18 seconds

Leflunomide is commonly associated with gastrointestinal side effects. The most common one is diarrhea, and sometimes you need to go very slow, starting it and build up the dose to minimize those side effects.

Leflunomide will also have other side effects such as hair loss, and this is a reason that many patients may stop the medication if it’s quite prominent. Leflunomide may also cause common side effects like sores in the nose and mouth. Leflunomide may also be associated with headaches, and up to 10% of people with leflunomide get headaches. And if you’re developing headaches, you may need to reduce or stop the medication.

Occasionally leflunomide can be associated with high blood pressure, so if there is a concern about high blood pressure, you need to monitor your blood pressure on a regular basis. If you go on this medication, your specialist will do some baseline bloodwork, and then bloodwork every one to three months to monitor for your liver and your bone marrow.

Very occasionally leflunomide can cause lung inflammation, so if you’re having symptoms of cough, shortness of breath or flu-like symptoms, you should stop the medication and let your specialist know. If you have any questions or concerns about leflunomide, contact your healthcare provider or your specialist.

Presenter: Dr. John Wade, Rheumatologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Rheumatologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.