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tofacitinib (Xeljanz, Xeljanz XR)

Brand Names: Xeljanz, Xeljanz XR

Generic Name: tofacitinib

What is tofacitinib (Xeljanz, Xeljanz XR)?

Tofacitinib is used to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis or active psoriatic arthritis in adults who have tried methotrexate or other medications without successful treatment of symptoms. Tofacitinib is sometimes given in combination with methotrexate or other arthritis medicines.

Tofacitinib is also used to treat adults with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis. Extended-release tofacitinib is not for use in treating ulcerative colitis.

Tofacitinib may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of tofacitinib (Xeljanz, Xeljanz XR)?

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Some people taking incorrect dosages of tofacitinib have developed serious or fatal blood clots in the lungs. Seek emergency medical attention if you have:

  • sudden shortness of breath;
  • clammy or blue-colored skin, heavy sweating;
  • pain in your chest or back; or
  • cough with pink or red mucus.

You may get infections more easily, even serious or fatal infections. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of infection such as:

Further doses may be delayed until your infection clears up.

Also call your doctor at once if you have:

  • low red blood cells (anemia)--pale skin, unusual tiredness, feeling light-headed or short of breath, cold hands and feet;
  • signs of hepatitis--loss of appetite, vomiting, stomach pain (upper right side), dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
  • shingles--burning pain, numbness, tingling, itching, skin rash or blisters; or
  • signs of perforation (a hole or tear) in your stomach or intestines--fever, ongoing stomach pain, change in bowel habits.

Common side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about tofacitinib (Xeljanz, Xeljanz XR)?

You should not use tofacitinib if you have a serious infection. Before you start treatment, your doctor may perform tests to make sure you do not have an infection.

Tofacitinib affects your immune system. You may get infections more easily, even serious or fatal infections. Call your doctor if you have a fever, chills, aches, tiredness, cough, skin sores, diarrhea, weight loss, or burning when you urinate.

If you've ever had hepatitis B or C, using tofacitinib can cause this virus to become active or get worse. Tell your doctor if you don't feel well and you have right-sided upper stomach pain, vomiting, loss of appetite, or yellowing of your skin or eyes.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking tofacitinib (Xeljanz, Xeljanz XR)?

You should not use tofacitinib if you are allergic to it, or if you have any kind of infection.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

Tell your doctor if you have ever had tuberculosis or if anyone in your household has tuberculosis. Also tell your doctor if you have recently traveled. Tuberculosis and some fungal infections are more common in certain parts of the world, and you may have been exposed during travel.

Using tofacitinib may increase your risk of developing certain cancers, such as lymphoma or skin cancer. Ask your doctor about this risk.

It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Tofacitinib may affect your ability to have children during treatment and in the future.

If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry to track the effects of tofacitinib on the baby.

Do not breastfeed while you are using this medicine, and for at least 18 hours after your last dose (36 hours if you take extended-release tablets). If you use a breast pump during this time, do not feed the milk to your baby.

How should I take tofacitinib (Xeljanz, Xeljanz XR)?

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

A safe dose of tofacitinib is not the same for all conditions. Avoid medication errors by using only the form and strength your doctor prescribes. You should not take extended-release tofacitinib (Xeljanz XR) to treat ulcerative colitis.

You may take tofacitinib with or without food.

Do not crush, chew, or break an extended-release tablet. Swallow it whole.

Tofacitinib affects your immune system. You may get infections more easily, even serious or fatal infections.

If you've ever had shingles (herpes zoster) or hepatitis B or C, using tofacitinib can cause these viruses to become active or get worse. You may need frequent liver function tests.

Your doctor will need to examine you on a regular basis.

Store in the original container at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Some tablets are made with a shell that is not absorbed or melted in the body. Part of this shell may appear in your stool. This is normal and will not make the medicine less effective.

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What happens if I miss a dose (Xeljanz, Xeljanz XR)?

Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose (Xeljanz, Xeljanz XR)?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking tofacitinib (Xeljanz, Xeljanz XR)?

Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using tofacitinib, or you could develop a serious infection. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), polio, rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), and zoster (shingles).

What other drugs will affect tofacitinib (Xeljanz, Xeljanz XR)?

Sometimes it is not safe to use certain medications at the same time. Some drugs can affect your blood levels of other drugs you take, which may increase side effects or make the medications less effective.

Tell your doctor about all your current medicines. Many drugs can affect tofacitinib, especially:

This list is not complete and many other drugs may affect tofacitinib. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Where can I get more information (Xeljanz, Xeljanz XR)?

Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about tofacitinib.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

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Reviewed on 7/24/2019

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