What is Tofacitinib?

Tofacitinib is a targeted DMARD (Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug), which works to dampen down the body’s inflammatory response. In certain diseases the immune system is over active, this can target healthy tissues such as joints. Tofacitinib works on the inflammatory pathway to inhibit proteins called JAK, reducing the symptoms you should get from arthritis such as pain and joint swelling.

Tofacitinib is known as a JAK inhibitor from its effects, there are other medications in this group such as baricitinib.


What is Tofacitinib used for?

Tofacitinib is used in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis where their joints are very active and not responding to 2 or more conventional DMARDs. It is usually given alongside some of these medications such as methotrexate.

Tofacitinib has also been found to help reduce the rash in psoriasis and your help your bowel in inflammatory bowel disease.


How is it taken? 

Tofacitinib is taken as a tablet twice a day. It can be taken with or without food. The dose is 5mg twice daily, however you may be recommended to just take it once a day depending on how well your kidneys work.

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember that day, but never double up the dose.


The effects from tofacitinib are usually seen to start within a week and build up, so we usually continue for 12 weeks before we review how well it is working. You will be seen in clinic at this time to monitor how well you are doing.


You will require blood monitoring of the medication every 8 weeks when you start taking the tablets for the first 4 months. This monitoring is dropped down to every 3 months whilst you continue on it. If you are on other medications such as other DMARDs, the blood monitoring can be carried out at the same time.


Side effects

Tofacitinib is usually well tolerated by patients, however a small number of patients may experience some side effects such as feeling sick and headaches in the first few weeks of starting. These usually settle down after the first few weeks.

There are a few conditions that tofacitinib has been found to make you slightly more susceptible to, these include:



Cautions of use

Interactions with other medications

Contraindications of other conditions


During pregnancy and breastfeeding




Useful Links

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