Adults who have been diagnosed with moderate-to-severe active rheumatoid arthritis and have not benefited from using methotrexate may receive a medicine called Xeljanz. This prescription drug works by blocking enzymes in the body that help to regulate the function of immune cells. There are also some off-label uses for Xeljanz, such as treating psoriasis, preventing transplant rejection, and treating other immunologic diseases.
Xeljanz® (tofacitinib) is a prescription medication licensed to treat moderate-to-severe active rheumatoid arthritis in adults. Specifically, it is approved only for people who have not responded well to methotrexate (Rheumatrex®, Trexall®). This includes people who could not tolerate methotrexate and those who did not have significant improvement with it.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. This means that, for some reason, the immune system mistakes a person's own cells as invaders and attacks them, causing damage. Similar to other autoimmune diseases, scientists still do not know the causes of rheumatoid arthritis.
There are many rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, including chronic pain along with tender, warm, and swollen joints. Rheumatoid arthritis treatment usually includes medications. There are four different types of rheumatoid arthritis medications, including:
- Analgesics (pain relievers), including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
- Biological response modifiers (sometimes known as biological DMARDs).
Xeljanz is a DMARD. As mentioned previously, it is approved for use in people who have unsuccessfully tried methotrexate. Xeljanz can be used in combination with methotrexate or other nonbiologic DMARDs. It should not be used in combination with biologic DMARDs or very strong immunosuppressants, such as cyclosporine or azathioprine.