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How long does Xeljanz take to work?

Medically reviewed by N. France, BPharm. Last updated on Jan 22, 2021.

Official Answer


Xeljanz (tofacitinib citrate) is a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor and disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD), which works by suppressing the immune system.

Some patients taking Xeljanz will feel better quite quickly, but others will find it takes longer to notice the beneficial effects of the drug.

Xeljanz is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and ulcerative colitis. How quickly Xeljanz works can depend on what you are being treated for.

How quickly does Xeljanz work for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis?

Xeljanz starts to work within two weeks for some patients with rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, according to the results of phase III trials.

While improvements in physical function and a reduction in the number of joints that are painful, tender and swollen can begin in as little as two weeks, some patients may take up to three to four months to notice an improvement in their symptoms.

How quickly does Xeljanz work for polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis?

Xeljanz also started working within two weeks for some patients with JIA in a phase III trial. A total of 45.11 percent of 184 patients with JIA achieved an American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 30 response within two weeks.

ACR scores look for improvements across a range of paraments and provide a composite score. Parameters include tender and painful joints, inflammation, pain, physical function and more.

The number of patients who responded to treatment continued to increase over the 18 weeks that part 1 of that phase III study continued, with 92.21 percent of 154 patients achieving ACR30 by 18 weeks.

How quickly does Xeljanz work for ulcerative colitis?

Xeljanz works within three days, providing a significant improvement in ulcerative colitis symptoms.

The phase III OCTAVE Induction 1 and 2 trials previously reported that a significant improvement in ulcerative colitis symptoms occurs within two weeks of taking Xeljanz. This was based on a partial Mayo score assessment that was carried out at that time.

Researchers have since looked at other data from the trials, including data from daily telephone diary entries. This showed that Xeljanz worked rapidly in patients with ulcerative colitis to provide symptom relief within three days for some patients.


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