TOFACITINIB (XELJANZ)

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.

 



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