Xeljanz (tofacitinib) is a Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drug (DMARD) that suppresses the immune system to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. It belongs to a class of medications known as Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitors. It is the first medication of this class to be approved for clinical trials and was first approved for use as a prescription medicine in 2012.
Xeljanz is currently used to treat rheumatoid arthritis with and without methotrexate. Its effectiveness is being studied for other types of arthritis such as psoriatic arthritis, for diseases other than arthritis such as Crohn’s disease, and for preventing tissue rejection in organ transplant recipients.
Xeljanz is one of the few therapies for arthritis that is available as an oral tablet. The standard dose is one 5 mg tablet, taken twice every day.
Xeljanz does not work right away. It can take about 2 to 8 weeks before patients start feeling better, and it can take 3 to 6 months to feel the maximum effect of this medication. If the dose is changed, it can take 2-8 weeks to feel the effects.
Important Tests and Risks
Regular blood tests are necessary when taking Xeljanz. Doctors will advise patients how frequently they want to run tests to make sure that the medicine isn’t affecting the kidneys, liver, blood counts, or cholesterol levels. Testing is usually required once every 1 to 3 months.
Xeljanz can make it a bit harder for people to fight off infections. Patients taking this medicine should call their doctor they have a fever, think they have an infection, or have been prescribed antibiotics to treat an infection.
Patients should coordinate with their doctor to stop treatment before any surgery. It can be re-started once things have healed and there’s no sign of infection.
Patients should discuss all vaccinations with their doctor because some are not advisable to get while taking Xeljanz.
All patients should have a TB (tuberculosis) skin test and a chest x-ray before starting treatment.
Drug Identification Number (DIN): 02423898 (Oral)