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Leflunomide Class of Drugs

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you may benefit from leflunomide (Arava®). It is only available with a prescription and comes as a tablet that is taken by mouth once daily.
Leflunomide belongs to a class of drugs called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). These medications work in several ways to slow down the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.
Specifically, leflunomide works by blocking the body's ability to make certain molecules called pyrimidines. T cells are a type of immune cell known to be overactive in people with rheumatoid arthritis. They produce chemicals that cause inflammation and damage joint tissue. T cells need pyrimidines to divide, or reproduce. By stopping the production of pyrimidine, leflunomide prevents T cells from reproducing, thereby reducing inflammation and preventing joint damage.
(For a complete look at how this drug is classified and how it works to treat rheumatoid arthritis, click Leflunomide. This Web resource also provides detailed information on potential side effects, dosing guidelines, and safety precautions.)
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