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What Is Tofacitinib Used For?

A healthcare provider may prescribe tofacitinib to adults who have moderate-to-severe active rheumatoid arthritis. Although it is not exactly clear how this medication works, it is known to block certain enzymes in the body that help regulate the function of immune cells. Tofacitinib may be prescribed to treat psoriasis, prevent transplant rejection, and treat other immunologic diseases; however, these are unapproved uses for tofacitinib.


An Overview of Uses for Tofacitinib

Tofacitinib (Xeljanz®) 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)
  • Corticosteroids
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
  • Biological response modifiers (sometimes known as biological DMARDs).
 
Tofacitinib is a DMARD. As mentioned previously, it is approved for use in people who have unsuccessfully tried methotrexate. Tofacitinib 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.
 
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Tofacitinib Drug Information

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