The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today expanded the approval of Xeljanz (tofacitinib) to include adults with moderately to severely active ulcerative colitis. Xeljanz is the first oral medication approved for chronic use in this indication. Other FDA-approved treatments for the chronic treatment of moderately to severely active ulcerative colitis must be administered through an intravenous infusion or subcutaneous injection.
The most common adverse events associated with Xeljanz treatment for ulcerative colitis were diarrhea, elevated cholesterol levels, headache, herpes zoster (shingles), increased blood creatine phosphokinase, nasopharyngitis (common cold), rash and upper respiratory tract infection.
Less common serious adverse events included malignancy and serious infections such as opportunistic infections. Xeljanz has a boxed warning for serious infections and malignancy. Patients treated with Xeljanz are at increased risk for developing serious infections that may lead to hospitalization or death. Lymphoma and other malignancies have been observed in patients treated with Xeljanz.
Use of Xeljanz in combination with biological therapies for ulcerative colitis or with potent immunosuppressants, such as azathioprine and cyclosporine, is not recommended.
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