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Clinical Effects

In clinical studies, leflunomide has been shown to reduce symptoms and increase physical function in people with rheumatoid arthritis, as well as to slow down the progression of the disease. Symptoms, such as painful, swollen, and tender joints, were improved within one month of giving people leflunomide. Improvements in physical function occurred after six months of treatment, and included an improved ability to walk, dress, and get up from a seated position.
In these studies, leflunomide was shown to be more effective than a placebo (a sugar pill that does not contain any active ingredients). It also worked as well as two other medicines used to treat rheumatoid arthritis: methotrexate (Rheumatrex®, Trexall®) and sulfasalazine (Azulfidine®, Azulfidine EN-tabs®).

When and How to Take Leflunomide

Some general considerations to keep in mind during treatment with leflunomide include the following:
  • This medication comes in tablet form. It is usually taken by mouth once a day.
  • You can take leflunomide with food or on an empty stomach. Try taking it with food if it upsets your stomach.
  • You can take this medicine any time of day. Try to take it at the same time each day, as this will help you remember to take it and will maintain an even level of the drug in your blood.
  • For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed.

Storage Information

Leflunomide should be stored at room temperature, away from light. Keep this and all other medications out of the reach of children. People with rheumatoid arthritis often have trouble opening prescription bottles. Ask your pharmacist for easy-open lids, although you will need to be especially careful to keep this container out of the reach of children.
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