Main uses in hair loss: none (experimental only for alopecia areata)
Other names: Xeljanz
See recent Article on Tofacitinib
What is tofacitinib?
- Tofacitinib (also called “Xeljanz”) is a relatively new drug approved for rheumatoid arthritis.
- It's FDA approved for patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis.
- It is currently being explored as to whether it can be used for alopecia areata. It is not approved for this use yet
How does the drug work?
- The drug works by blocking an enzyme called the Janus kinase (type 1/3).
What class of drug is tofacitinib?
- Tofacitinib is an immunosuppressant medication.
- Dermatologists already use many different types of immunosuppressant medications for the treatment of alopecia areata.
- Four examples of immunosuppressants include oral prednisone, methotrexate, cyclosporine and sulfasalazine.
Is tofacitinib likely to be a cure of alopecia areata?
- Tofacitinib is a treatment, not a cure.
- It’s important for everyone to keep in mind that tofacitinib is a potential treatment for alopecia but not a cure.
- If the mediation is stopped, it is likely that patients will lose hair again at some point.
What are the main side effects of tofacitinib?
- Tofacitinib has potential side effects and should only be prescribed by a physician who is very knowledgeable about the drug and should only be used by patients who are very knowledgeable about the potential side effects.
- As an immunosuppressant, the drug can increase the risk of infection. In fact, serious infections occur in approximately 2 % of patients.
- Long term risk for cancer also needs to be considered.
- The drug can reduce heart rate by approximately 5 beats per minutes and sometimes can’t be used in patients with heart problems.
- Frequent blood monitoring is needed while on the drug as the drug can irritate the liver, sometimes lower blood counts and sometimes raise cholesterol levels.