Community Responses: JAK Inhibitors

One of the more recently developed treatments for rheumatoid arthritis is a family of drugs known as Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors. You may or may not have heard of this term but have heard of medications that fall under this class of RA treatments: Xeljanz, Olumiant, and Rinvoq. JAK inhibitors work by targeting certain enzymes in your body to provide relief from RA symptoms.

Community experiences with JAK inhibitors

To hear more about your experiences with these drugs, we reached out on the RheumatoidArthritis.net Facebook page, asking: “Has anyone here ever used a JAK inhibitor (Xeljanz, Olumiant, Rinvoq) to treat their RA?”

Nearly 400 of you commented. Here is what you shared.

No issues with side effects for some taking Xeljanz

Xeljanz (tofacitinib) was one of the earliest JAK inhibitors that were available. For some, it worked right away. For others, it worked for years until it did not.

“I am now happily on [Xeljanz], combined with my subcutaneously injected methotrexate, 6mgs of Prednisone and Plaquenil daily. Although I am still having some pain, I am so much better!”

“Xeljanz seems to work for me with no side effects.”

“I have been taking Xeljanz for about 3 years and it has been great for me. I have had no side effects, and overall feel good w/ my RA. I have been very happy with Xeljanz.”

Relief from RA symptoms with Xeljanz but with side effects

For every person in the RA community who found relief with Xeljanz, there is one who had bad side effects or someone who simply was not helped by the drug. Side effects reported by some community members have included sore mouth to liver problems.

“My liver readings were very high on Xeljanz.”

“I have been on Xeljanz, but it did not work for me. About to start Rinvoq.”

“I took Xeljanz for a month 4 years ago and developed serious GI problems i.e. diverticulitis. Had to have surgery for it 2 months ago, after 4 years of different treatments for the diverticulitis.”

“I was on Xeljanz from April 2019 to June 2019. It helped with pain, fatigue, etc but knocked my immune system out of the park totally. I ended up hospitalized 2 times during that time as well as having other infections so had to stop taking it.”

“Xeljanz made my mouth sore and screwed up my tongue. After a year of being off that drug, my tongue is still not right.

“I was on Xeljanz for about 18 months, but then it stopped working for me.”

Experiences with Rinvoq

Rinvoq (upadacitinib) is a JAK inhibitor and was approved in the United States in August 2019. Some have found relief with this once-daily pill.

“I am currently taking Rinvoq, It is the first med that has helped me. I have been on it 7 weeks and so far all but 1 knot have disappeared! I feel better than I have in several years. So far no side effects either.”

“Been on Rinvoq for 3 months. I feel the best I have in 2 1/2 years. Rinvoq has removed my fatigue and brain fog.”

Experiences with Olumiant

Olumiant (baricitinib) is one more JAK option, offering relief from joint pain, swelling and tenderness. Some have found relief with the medication anywhere from 1 to 12 weeks after starting. It is a once-daily pill.

“Yes, I have been on Olumiant since May 2019.”

“Yep, Olumiant changed my life! However, for me Xeljanz worked for less than a year and then abruptly stopped working. Almost no side effects with either though. Olumiant was combined with Arava. The combination has worked so well for the last 2 years.”

We want to say thank you to everyone who shared their treatment experiences with this class of RA medications. We appreciate everyone who responded to the prompt.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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