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Xeljanz (Tofacitinib) Medication Information
Your doctor may prescribe Xeljanz to treat one of the following autoimmune conditions:
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Ulcerative colitis
People with autoimmune conditions have an overactive immune system, and it attacks the cells of their own bodies. These conditions are often chronic and very uncomfortable.
Xeljanz is a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor. It modulates the immune system to make it less active, treating certain autoimmune disorders.
Your dosage will depend on why you are using Xeljanz. The usual dosages are:
- Psoriatic arthritis: Take 5 mg by mouth twice daily
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Take 5 mg by mouth twice daily
- Ulcerative colitis: Take 10 mg by mouth twice daily for 8 weeks, then decrease to 5-10 mg by mouth twice daily. Do not take longer than 16 weeks.
Take Xeljanz exactly as prescribed by your doctor. It can be taken with or without food.
Common adverse reactions to Xeljanz may include:
- Acne vulgaris
- Herpes Zoster infection
- Increased cholesterol
- Increased creatinine phosphokinase
- Skin rash
- Urinary tract infection
Tell your doctor about any side effects you experience while taking Xeljanz.
Tell your doctor if you have a history of liver problems before starting Xeljanz because the dosage might need to be adjusted.
You should not take Xeljanz if you have a chronic infection like tuberculosis because it can reactivate the infection.
Xeljanz can increase the risk of lymphoma and certain cancers in people who take Xeljanz with immunosuppressant drugs.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the drug-drug interactions that apply to you.
Xeljanz may impair fertility in women of childbearing age.
Xeljanz has many possible drug-drug interactions. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of the medications you are taking, including over-the-counter (OTC) medications, supplements, and herbals.
Common interactions with Xeljanz may include:
- Cobicistat and cobicistat-containing coformulations
- Ombitasvir-paritaprevir-ritonavir plus dasabuvir
- Rabies Vaccine
- Rifampin (rifampicin)
- Ritonavir and ritonavir-containing coformulations
- Tacrolimus (Topical)
Store Xeljanz near room temperature at 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F).
- Not much is known about how Xeljanz affects a developing fetus. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant while taking this medication. Wait 18 hours after taking Xeljanz to breastfeed.
- Your doctor should check your liver function before you start taking Xeljanz. If you have impaired liver function, you may need to lower your dose.
- If you miss a dose of Xeljanz by more the six hours, take the scheduled dose. Do not double up.
How long will I need to take Xeljanz?
Depending on the condition being treated, you will either take it lifelong or for a maximum of 16 weeks.
What side effects should I watch for when I start Xeljanz?
The most common side effect is an infection that can lead to hospitalization or death. This side effect is more likely when taking an additional immunosuppressant.
What time of day should I take Xeljanz?
Take Xeljanz any time of the day at the same time each day.
- Xeljanz [package insert]. New York, NY: Pfizer; 2018.
Author: Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS
Dr. Sheehy is a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist. He has worked in multiple practice settings, including retail and hospital pharmacies, and in medical clinics. He specializes in anticoagulation, psychiatric medications, and diabetes medications. He strives to empower his patients to understand their medications and improve their overall medical care.
The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.