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Xeljanz prices expected to climb despite Xeljanz side effects

Healthcare data analysis firm 3 Axis Advisors expects the price of arthritis medication Xeljanz to increase by about five percent in 2020.

Xeljanz is used to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. It is also used to treat active psoriatic arthritis and moderate to severe ulcerative colitis. Xeljanz is a janus kinase inhibitor. Janus kinase inhibitors can reduce immune system activity. Overactive immune systems can contribute to rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis or ulcerative colitis.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted a drug safety communication regarding Xeljanz in February 2019. That communication noted that rheumatoid arthritis patients taking 10 mg of tofacitinib (Xeljanz, Xeljanz XR) twice per day had an increased risk of death and blood clots in the lungs.

The FDA then approved a Boxed Warning for Xeljanz in July 2019. A Boxed Warning is the FDA’s strongest warning. This warning noted an increased risk of death and blood clots in ulcerative colitis patients taking 10 mg of tofacitinib twice per day.

The FDA says that patients taking tofacitinib should seek immediate medical attention if they experience any of the following symptoms:

• Sudden shortness of breath
• Sudden difficulty breathing
• Chest or back pain
• Chest pain which gets worse when you breathe
• Heavy sweating
• Bluish or clammy skin
• Leg or arm swelling
• Leg tenderness or pain
• Discolored or red skin in a swolloen or painful arm or leg

The FDA continues to study the effects of 5 mg of tofacitinib taken twice per day.

The following adverse effects have affected tofacitinib patients:

• Upper respiratory tract infections
• Headaches
• Diarrhea
• The common cold
• Possible injury and death from infections or malignancies
• Tuberculosis
• Bacterial infections
• Invasive fungal infections
• Viral infections
• Epstein Barr Virus-associated post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder

Blood clots can cause the following injuries:

• Pulmonary embolism
• Pulmonary thrombosis
• Deep vein thrombosis
• Stroke

Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by undesirable tissue growth in joints. This tissue creates pain and inflammation. This pain and inflammation worsens when the immune system attacks the tissue. This tissue growth results from problems in DNA transcription. Xeljanz treats rheumatoid arthritis by slowing down janus kinase enzymes. Janus kinase enzymes drive DNA transcription.

The FDA approved tofacitinib for rheumatoid arthritis in 2012. It approved the drug for psoriatic arthritis in 2017 and for ulcerative colitis in 2018.

About the author

John Elliot

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