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Health trends

Published:Wednesday | November 14, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Xeljanz approved for rheumatoid arthritis

The US Food and Drug Administration recently approved Xeljanz (tofacitinib) to treat adults with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who have had an inadequate response to, or who are intolerant of, methotrexate.

RA is an autoimmune disease, in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue, leading to inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, RA affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans. Xeljanz, a pill taken twice daily, works by blocking molecules called 'Janus kinases', which are important in the joint inflammation of RA.

"Xeljanz provides a new treatment option for adults suffering from the debilitating disease of RA who have had a poor response to methotrexate," said Badrul Chowdhury, MD, PhD, director of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Rheumatology Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Xeljanz is being approved ahead of the product's prescription drug user fee goal date of November 21, the date the agency was scheduled to complete review of the drug application. The safety and effectiveness of Xeljanz were evaluated in seven clinical trials in adult patients with moderately to severely active RA.

Source: The US Food and Drug Administration