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Does Xeljanz cause high blood pressure?

Medically reviewed by Philip Thornton, DipPharm. Last updated on Dec 17, 2021.

Official answer


Xeljanz (tofacitinib citrate) can cause high blood pressure (hypertension) in people with rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.

During clinical development of Xeljanz, hypertension was found to be a common side effect of treatment with the drug, occurring in 2% of patients with rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis. High blood pressure was observed in 2% patients treated with Xeljanz 5mg twice daily, as well as 2% of patients treated with the higher 10mg twice a day dose.

When they combined data from six phase III studies and two long-term extension studies conducted in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, researchers found that blood pressure remained stable over time and that adverse events related to hypertension were low.

Pooled data from phase III and long-term extension studies conducted in patients with psoriatic arthritis, also showed the incidence of hypertension-related adverse events was low.

Xeljanz is a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, polyarticular course juvenile idiopathic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and ulcerative colitis.

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Xeljanz / Xeljanz XR / Xeljanz Oral Solution. Available at:,208246s013,213082s003lbl.pdf. [Accessed December 17, 2021].
  • Charles-Schoeman C, Wicker P, Gonzalez-Gay MA, et al. Cardiovascular safety findings in patients with rheumatoid arthritis treated with tofacitinib, an oral Janus kinase inhibitor. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2016;46(3):261-271. doi:10.1016/j.semarthrit.2016.05.014.
  • Gladman DD, Charles-Schoeman C, McInnes IB, et al. Changes in Lipid Levels and Incidence of Cardiovascular Events Following Tofacitinib Treatment in Patients With Psoriatic Arthritis: A Pooled Analysis Across Phase III and Long-Term Extension Studies. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2019;71(10):1387-1395. doi:10.1002/acr.23930.

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