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Friday, September 24, 2010


In July of this year, the FDA issued a warning about a side effect of the Rheumatoid Arthritis drug Arava, which has been on the market since 1998. It so occurred that the medication caused severe liver damage resulting in numerous hospitalizations and even in almost 30 deaths over the past several years.

'As a result, regulators have ordered that the liver injury warning be boxed and placed more prominently at the top of the label; and they have issued new alerts for doctors and patients, warning that leflunomide is not safe for people who have preexisting liver disease like hepatitis, those who have elevated levels of liver enzymes or a history of alcohol abuse.

Also, people who take other drugs associated with liver injury like acetaminophen (Tylenol), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – including ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Alleve), hydroxychloroquine and statins should use leflunomide with caution.

The FDA says patients taking leflunomide need to have blood tests to check their liver enzyme levels every month for the first three months of use and every three months thereafter.'

~Source: Brenda Goodman, Arthritis Foundation.

The serious side effects are:
fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, white patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips, chest pain, cough, trouble breathing (can be accompanied by fever), pain or burning when you urinate, pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding, unusual weakness, nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, itching, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), fever, sore throat, and headache with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash.
If you experience any of the above, you better stop taking the medication and call your doctor right away!

Other side effects which are less serious could be:
mild stomach pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, headache, dizziness, back pain, numbness or tingling, runny or stuffy nose, cold symptoms, mild itching, skin rash, hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

I also found that Arava can cause hair loss, can not be taken during pregnancy because it can cause birth defects, and you are not supposed to get a "live" vaccine while you are being treated with it and also have to stay clear from people who recently received a "live" vaccin.

Another fact to take in account is the interaction Arava can have with other medications, because this can increase the risk for liver disease. Arava does not go well with the following medications:
- Tylenol, tuberculosis medications, birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy.
- Arthritis medications such as Ridaura or Solganol.
- ACE inhibitors such as Lotensin, Capoten, Vasotec, Monopril, Prinivil, Zestril, Accupril and several others.
- Antibiotics such as E.E.S., EryPed, Ery-Tab, Erythrocin.
- Antifungal medications like Diflucan, Sporanox, or Nizoral.
- Cholesterol medications like Advicor, Lipitor, Zocor and others.
- HIV/AIDS medications such as Trizivir, Combivir, Epivir, Viramune, Viread, or Retrovir.
- NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) such as ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, Naproxen, Aleve, Naprosyn, Diclofenac, Cataflam, Voltaren, Lodine, Indocin, Orudis and several others.
- Seizure medications like Carbatrol, Tegretol, Dilantin, Felbatol, Depakene.

Knowing all this, you may not feel very comfortable taking this medication. However, under constant care, monitoring, and check ups by your physician, you may experience some positive reactions and improvements concerning your RA. If you think the risks are too high, then simply ask your doctor for another drug; you have the right to do so!

If you know someone who is taking Arave, you may want to talk to them about all the negative side effects and keep an eye on them as well. They may not be aware of all this and forewarned is forearmed.

When you notice someone is walking outside of God, you can care for and love them by talking to them and pointing out all the negative effects and consequences. They may not have been aware of it and since forewarned is forearmed, they may be able to get back on the right path much sooner then when you had turned your back on them!

1 Corinthians 12:25
that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.


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