Quick Facts

If moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pain is getting in the way of your normal activities, it may be time to ask if XELJANZ could be right for you.

Available by prescription, XELJANZ (pronounced zel-jans zel-janszel-jans) is a small pill that treats moderate to severe RA. XELJANZ is also available as a once-daily pill called XELJANZ XR. Learn more about once-daily XELJANZ XR here.

XELJANZ is proven to work alone—even without methotrexate.

XELJANZ is the first in a class of treatments for moderate to severe RA called Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors. If methotrexate hasn’t done enough to help relieve your RA symptoms, and before you and your rheumatologist decide on a biologic, ask if XELJANZ is right for you.

X-rays have shown that XELJANZ helps stop further joint damage.

In some patients, XELJANZ began to work in as early as 2 weeks to reduce RA joint pain and swelling. In clinical trials, more than half of XELJANZ patients felt an improvement in RA symptoms at 3 months.

Everyone is different. Your results may vary.

XELJANZ is a pill proven to reduce RA pain, swelling, and joint damage—even without methotrexate.

The easy-to-open XELJANZ bottle cap was awarded the Arthritis Foundation’s Ease-of-Use Commendation.

The Arthritis Foundation’s Ease-of-Use Commendation recognizes products, such as the XELJANZ bottle cap, proven to make life easier for people who have arthritis and other physical limitations.


How Xeljanz Works

XELJANZ is a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor that works deep inside the cell to disrupt activities occurring in signaling pathways. These JAK pathways are believed to play a role in the inflammation associated with RA. Watch to learn more about the science of XELJANZ and how it works to help disrupt the processes that can lead to inflammation.

Video description: 

Take a closer look at how XELJANZ works.

Clinical Trial Results

Safety & Side Effects

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Serious infections.

XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR can lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections. Some people can have serious infections while taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR, including tuberculosis (TB), and infections caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses that can spread throughout the body. Some people have died from these infections. Your healthcare provider should test you for TB before starting and during XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR treatment, and monitor you closely for signs and symptoms of TB infection during treatment. You should not start taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR if you have any kind of infection unless your healthcare provider tells you it is okay.

You may be at a higher risk of developing shingles (herpes zoster).

Before starting XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR, tell your healthcare provider if you: 

  • think you have an infection or have symptoms of an infection, such as fever, sweating, or chills; cough; blood in phlegm; warm, red, or painful skin or sores on your body; burning when you urinate or urinating more often than normal; muscle aches; shortness of breath; weight loss; diarrhea or stomach pain; or feeling very tired
  • are being treated for an infection
  • get a lot of infections or have infections that keep coming back
  • have diabetes, chronic lung disease, HIV, or a weak immune system. People with these conditions have a higher chance for infections
  • have TB, or have been in close contact with someone with TB 
  • live or have lived in, or have traveled to certain parts of the country (such as the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys and the Southwest) where there is an increased chance for getting certain kinds of fungal infections (histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis, or blastomycosis). These infections may happen or become more severe if you use XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR. Ask your healthcare provider if you do not know if you have lived in an area where these infections are common 
  • have or have had hepatitis B or C 

After starting XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR, call your healthcare provider right away if you have any symptoms of an infection. XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR can make you more likely to get infections or make worse any infection that you have.

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Cancer and immune system problems.

XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR may increase your risk of certain cancers by changing the way your immune system works. Lymphoma and other cancers, including skin cancers, have happened in patients taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had any type of cancer.

Some people who have taken XELJANZ with certain other medicines to prevent kidney transplant rejection have had a problem with certain white blood cells growing out of control (Epstein Barr Virus–associated post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder).


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Tears (perforation) in the stomach or intestines.

Some people taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR can get tears in their stomach or intestine. This happens most often in people who also take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, or methotrexate.

Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have fever and stomach-area pain that does not go away and a change in your bowel habits.

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Changes in certain lab test results.

Your healthcare provider should do blood tests before you start receiving XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR, and while you take XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR, to check for the following side effects:

  • changes in lymphocyte counts. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that help the body fight off infections.
  • low neutrophil counts. Neutrophils are white blood cells that help the body fight off infections.
  • low red blood cell count. This may mean that you have anemia, which may make you feel weak and tired.

Your healthcare provider should routinely check certain liver tests.

You should not receive XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR if your lymphocyte count, neutrophil count, or red blood cell count is too low or your liver tests are too high. Your healthcare provider may stop your XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR treatment for a period of time if needed because of changes in these blood test results.

Your healthcare provider should do blood tests to check your cholesterol levels 4-8 weeks after you start XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR, and as needed after that.

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What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR?

Before taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR, tell your healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you:

  • have an infection
  • have liver problems
  • have kidney problems
  • have any stomach area (abdominal) pain or been diagnosed with diverticulitis (inflammation in parts of the large intestine) or ulcers in your stomach or intestines, or narrowing within your digestive tract
  • have had a reaction to tofacitinib or any of the ingredients in XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR
  • have recently received or are scheduled to receive a vaccine. People taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR should not receive live vaccines but can receive non-live vaccines
  • plan to become pregnant or are pregnant. It is not known if XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR will harm an unborn baby. You should use effective birth control while you are taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR and for at least 4 weeks after you take your last dose.

Pregnancy Registry: Pfizer has a registry for pregnant women who take XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR. The purpose of this registry is to check the health of the pregnant mother and her baby. If you are pregnant or become pregnant while taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR, talk to your healthcare provider about how you can join this pregnancy registry or you may contact the registry at 18773118972 to enroll

  • plan to breastfeed or are breastfeeding

Tell your healthcare provider about all of the medicines you take, especially any other medicines to treat your rheumatoid arthritis. You should not take tocilizumab (Actemra®), etanercept (Enbrel®), adalimumab (Humira®), infliximab (Remicade®), rituximab (Rituxan®), abatacept (Orencia®), anakinra (Kineret®), certolizumab pegol (Cimzia®), golimumab (Simponi®), ustekinumab (Stelara®), secukinumab (Cosentyx®), azathioprine, cyclosporine, or other immunosuppressive drugs while you are taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR. Taking XELJANZ or XELJANZ XR with these medicines may increase your risk of infection.

  • Tell your healthcare provider if you are taking medicines that affect the way certain liver enzymes work. Ask your healthcare provider if you are not sure if your medicine is one of these. 

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What are other possible side effects of XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR?

XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR may cause serious side effects, including hepatitis B or C activation infection in people who carry the virus in their blood. If you are a carrier of the hepatitis B or C virus (viruses that affect the liver), the virus may become active while you use XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR. Tell your healthcare provider if you have the following symptoms of a possible hepatitis B or C infection: feel very tired, little or no appetite, clay-colored bowel movements, chills, muscle aches, skin rash, skin or eyes look yellow, vomiting, fevers, stomach discomfort, or dark urine.

Common side effects of XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR include upper respiratory tract infections (common cold, sinus infections), headache, diarrhea, and nasal congestion, sore throat, and runny nose (nasopharyngitis).

These are not all of the possible side effects of XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR. Please see the Prescribing Information, including BOXED WARNING and Medication Guide, for additional information and complete details about XELJANZ.