Effect of hemodialysis on leflunomide plasma concentrations

Ann Pharmacother. 2002 Jan;36(1):75-7. doi: 10.1345/aph.1A127.


Objective: To report on the influence of hemodialysis on the disposition of leflunomide in a woman with end-stage renal disease.

Case summary: A 65-year-old white woman with a history of diabetes, end-stage renal disease, rheumatoid arthritis, vasculitis, and leg ulcers was admitted to the hospital with a flare in the symptoms of joint pain and vasculitis. Prior to admission, she had been treated for rheumatoid arthritis with methotrexate 7.5 mg once a week. Due to adverse effects from methotrexate and continuing painful joints, leflunomide was considered as a therapeutic alternative. A loading dose of 100 mg was followed two days later by a daily dose of 10 mg. The active metabolite of leflunomide (A771726) was measured before and after hemodialysis and between hemodialysis sessions over a period of 80 days. Pre- and post-hemodialysis concentrations were compared for 17 sessions during this time. Based on the initial measured concentrations, the leflunomide dose was increased to 20 mg/d for several weeks before being reduced to 15 mg due to elevated liver enzymes.

Discussion: Although renal pathways are responsible in part for excretion of A771726, the concentrations achieved in this patient at doses of 10-20 mg/d were at the low end of the range reported in the literature. It was shown that pre- and post-hemodialysis concentrations of A771726 did not differ significantly. Thus, the low concentrations of A771726 were not a result of the hemodialysis.

Conclusions: Steady-state concentrations of A771726 in plasma were not affected by hemodialysis or renal impairment. Reduction of the dose of leflunomide in patients with chronic renal failure undergoing hemodialysis does not appear to be required.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / blood*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Antirheumatic Agents*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Biotransformation
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isoxazoles / administration & dosage
  • Isoxazoles / blood*
  • Isoxazoles / therapeutic use
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy
  • Leflunomide
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Isoxazoles
  • Leflunomide