Arava, also known by its drug name, Leflunomide, is a prescription medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998 to treat joint pain, swelling, and stiffness associated with active rheumatoid arthritis. Arava is also prescribed for people with early-stage psoriatic arthritis.
Arava is not appropriate for pregnant women, men or women who plan to conceive a pregnancy in the near future, or people with severe immunodeficiency. Arava should be used with caution by those with a history of liver problems.
Arava is an immunosuppressant, or in other words, a drug that suppresses the immune system. Arava is also considered a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD). Arava is believed to work by preventing the production of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in certain cells, including some cells in the immune system. Blocking DNA production causes those cells to die, thereby suppressing the immune system and weakening autoimmune attacks.
How do I take it?
Arava is taken orally as a tablet once a day.
Your doctor may order regular blood tests to check your liver function while you are taking Arava.
It is important for men and women to use effective birth control while taking Arava. After discontinuing Arava, women of childbearing age and men who plan to father a child are advised to undergo a drug elimination process and verification that the drug has been removed from their systems.
Always follow your doctor’s instructions exactly when taking Arava.
In a study published in 2014, researchers followed 85 people with psoriatic arthritis who were treated with either Leflunomide (Arava) alone or in combination with Methotrexate (Trexall). After one year, approximately 50 percent of participants had shown significant improvement. Participants who also took Methotrexate were more likely to achieve higher scores on the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index, a measure of disease activity.
Serious but rare side effects of Arava include liver damage or failure.
The most commonly reported side effects of Arava are nausea, diarrhea, and dizziness.
Inform your doctor right away if you experience chest pain, numbness or tingling in the extremities, muscle cramps, an increase in thirst or urine output, or changes to mood or vision while taking Arava.
Taking Arava lowers your resistance to infection. Wash your hands frequently and avoid exposure to people who are ill or have recently been ill with a cold or flu. Consult your doctor before receiving vaccinations while taking Arava. Inform your doctor if you develop signs of infection such as fever, chills, or sore throat.
Many drugs can cause allergic reactions which, in the most serious cases, can result in death. Seek immediate medical help if you experience signs of a severe allergic reaction such as difficulty breathing or swelling in the face, throat, eyes, lips, or tongue.