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Generic Name: Tofacitinib

Brands: Xeljanz, Xeljanz XR

Class: Pain, inflammation, and stiffness reliever (JAK inhibitor and DMARD)

Availability: Prescription required

Molecular Formula: C16H20N6O•C6H8O7

Substance UNII: O1FF4DIV0D

What is Xeljanz?

Xeljanz is a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor. It is the brand name of the generic drug tofacitinib.

What is Xeljanz Used For?

Xeljanz is used to treat patients who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis and Ulerative colitis. Doctors often prescribe this drug when patients are not having an adequate response to, methotrexate [Otrexup (PF), Xatmep, Trexall]. It may also be used with methotrexate, with other DMARDs, or as a monotherapy (single-drug therapy) depending on the indication.

Doctors may also prescribe Xeljanz when patients are suffering from pain and swelling associated with active ulcerative colitis (UC). In such cases, doctors prescribe it when patients no longer tolerate tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blocker medicines or these drugs do not provide an adequate response to the pain and inflammation. 

How Does Xeljanz Work?

The drug is an oral pill that works to block certain enzymes, called Janus kinases (JAK). However, these enzymes for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis sufferers, the enzymes are in a pathway for inflammation in joints. Xeljanz works to block the autoimmune system from creating too many Janus kinases, as this action helps to lessen the inflammation that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness.

How Long Does It Take for Xeljanz to Work?

It will depend on which type of tofacitinib patients take and the medical condition they are treating. That said, once taking Xeljanz or Xeljanz XR, some patients will see results in a few weeks or sooner. Others may see a noticeable improvement in a few months.

For rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, Xeljanz at a 5mg dosage at twice a day. Xeljanz XR at a 11mg dosage taken once a day. For Psoriatic arthritis it is recommended that both Xeljanz and Xeljanz XR prescribed in combination with non-DMARDs.

For ulcerative colitis, Xeljanz taken at a 5mg dosage or a 10mg dosage twice a day. When taking Xeljanz XR at 11mg or 22mg dosages once a day.

Do Not Use Xeljanz If:

According to the FDA, there are no contraindications that would prevent adults from using Xeljanz. However, its use should be discontinued or is not recommended if you have the following medical situations:

  • lymphocyte count that is less than 500 cells/mm after repeated testing
  • absolute neutrophil count that is less than 1,000 cells/mm
  • severe hepatic impairment

Please understand that this may not be a complete list of contraindications. There may be other complications or situations where the use of this drug would not be advisable.

Disclaimer: this article does not constitute or replace medical advice. If you have an emergency or a serious medical question, please contact a medical professional or call 911 immediately. To see our full medical disclaimer, visit our Terms of Use page.

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