Arava Overdose

If you take too much Arava (leflunomide), the effects may include diarrhea, abdominal (stomach) pain, anemia, or other problems. Due to these and other complications, it is important to seek immediate medical attention if you or someone else may have taken an overdose. Treatment may involve pumping the stomach, administering certain medications, and providing supportive care.

Can You Take Too Much Arava?

Arava® (leflunomide) is a prescription medication used to reduce symptoms, improve function, and slow down the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. As with any medication, it is possible to take too much Arava.
The specific effects of an overdose can vary, depending on a number of factors, including the Arava dosage and whether it was taken with any other medications or substances.

Effects of an Overdose

There have been reported cases of Arava overdoses. In these cases, symptoms were similar to the expected side effects of Arava. Some of the most common symptoms included:
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Blood cell problems, such as anemia
  • Increased liver enzymes.

Treating an Arava Overdose

The treatment for an Arava overdose may vary. If the overdose was recent, a healthcare provider may administer activated charcoal or "pump the stomach" to help reduce the amount of the medication that is absorbed into the bloodstream. Dialysis is not expected to be useful for removing Arava from the body.
Arava can stay in the body for up to two years after you stop taking it. A medication called cholestyramine may be used after an Arava overdose to remove Arava from the body more quickly. Cholestyramine has been shown to reduce Arava blood levels by up to 65 percent after two days. Multiple doses of cholestyramine may be needed to completely eliminate Arava from the body.
Treatment for any type of overdose typically involves supportive care, which consists of treating the symptoms that occur as a result of the overdose. For example, supportive treatment options for an Arava overdose may include:
  • Fluids through an intravenous line (IV), if necessary
  • Close monitoring of liver enzymes
  • Blood pressure monitoring
  • Monitoring for anemia and other blood cell problems.
It is important that you seek medical attention immediately if you believe that you or someone else may have used too much Arava.
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