Arthritis Home > Xeljanz

People who have rheumatoid arthritis may benefit from treatment with Xeljanz. This prescription medication comes as a tablet that is taken once or twice daily. Your individual dosage will depend on how well your liver and kidneys are functioning, how you tolerate the medication, and various other factors. Side effects include diarrhea, headaches, and infections.

 

What Is Xeljanz?

Xeljanz® (tofacitinib) is a prescription medication approved for treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It is a "biologic" RA treatment. Unlike many other newer RA medications, Xeljanz is taken by mouth rather than injected. It belongs to a class of medicines known as kinase inhibitors.
 
(Click Xeljanz Uses for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)
 

Who Makes This Medication?

Xeljanz is made by Pfizer Labs.
 

How Does Xeljanz Work?

Xeljanz works by blocking enzymes in the body known as janus-associated kinases (JAKs). JAK enzymes help regulate immune cell function. Xeljanz inhibits JAK enzymes; however, it is not entirely clear how this action helps to improve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.  
 

When and How to Take It

Some general considerations to keep in mind during treatment with Xeljanz include the following:
 
  • This medication comes in the form of a tablet. It is usually taken by mouth once or twice a day.
  • You can take Xeljanz with or without food.
  • Try to take your doses at the same times each day to keep an even level of the drug in your bloodstream.
  • For Xeljanz to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. Your symptoms will return if you stop taking this medication.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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