Arava is a medicine prescribed to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It has been shown to relieve symptoms and increase physical function in people with this condition, as well as to slow down the progression of the disease. The medication comes in tablet form and is typically taken once daily. Possible side effects of the drug include a rash, diarrhea, and hair loss.
What Is Arava?
Arava® (leflunomide) is a prescription medication approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It may be used alone or in combination with other medicines, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), aspirin, or corticosteroids (prednisone, for example).
Arava belongs to a class of medications called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). DMARDs are a group of drugs that work in different ways to slow down the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.
Arava works by blocking the body's ability to make 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 inhibiting pyrimidine production, Arava prevents T cells from reproducing, thereby reducing inflammation and preventing joint damage.
DMARDs, including Arava, are not intended to provide immediate relief from symptoms. Therefore, they may be used with medicines that can relieve ongoing symptoms, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or low doses of prednisone.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed April 28, 2011.
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