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What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking leflunomide (Arava)?
You should not use this medication if you are allergic to leflunomide, if you have liver disease, or if you are pregnant or may become pregnant.
If you have any of these other conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely take this medication:
FDA pregnancy category X. This medication can cause birth defects. Do not use leflunomide if you are pregnant. Your doctor may want you to have a pregnancy test to make sure you are not pregnant before you start taking leflunomide.
Stop taking leflunomide if you miss a period, and tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant during treatment. If you become pregnant while taking leflunomide, you will need to receive medications to help your body eliminate the drug quickly. This will reduce the risk of harm to your unborn baby. You will also need to go through this drug elimination procedure if you plan to become pregnant after you stop taking leflunomide.
Use effective birth control while you are taking leflunomide. After your treatment ends, continue using birth control until you have received the drug elimination medications.
If a man fathers a child during or after leflunomide treatment, the baby may have birth defects. Use a condom to prevent pregnancy while you are taking leflunomide. After your treatment ends, continue using condoms until you have received the medications to help your body eliminate leflunomide.
It is not known whether leflunomide passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
How should I take leflunomide (Arava)?
Take exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.
Before you start taking leflunomide, you may need a skin test to make sure you do not have tuberculosis.
Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results.
Leflunomide can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections. This can make it easier for you to get sick from being around others who are ill. To be sure your blood cells do not get too low, your blood will need to be tested often. Your liver function may also need to be tested. Visit your doctor regularly.
After you stop taking leflunomide, you may need to be treated with other medications to help your body eliminate leflunomide quickly. Without receiving this drug elimination procedure, leflunomide could stay in your body for up to 2 years. Follow your doctor's instructions.
Rheumatoid arthritis is often treated with a combination of drugs. Use all medications as directed by your doctor. Read the medication guide or patient instructions provided with each medication. Do not change your doses or medication schedule without your doctor's advice.
Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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