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Is Xeljanz an immunosuppressant?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Dec 15, 2021.

Official answer


Yes, Xeljanz is an immunosuppressant drug and reduces the activity of the immune system. This can make it harder for you to fight an infection. You should not use Xeljanz if you have a serious infection. Your doctor may perform tests before you start treatment to be sure you do not have an infection. Follow your doctors instructions exactly.

  • Some people taking Xeljanz may develop a serious or deadly infection due to tuberculosis (TB), bacteria, a fungus or a virus like shingles.
  • These infections can spread in your body and you may have to be hospitalized.
  • Most people who developed these infections were taking other medicines that also lowered the activity of the immune system, such as methotrexate or corticosteroids.

Tell your healthcare provider if you are taking any drugs used to suppress your immune system or if you are being treated for an infection. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure.

Also tell your doctor if you have a history of lots of infections, have TB, have ever had TB, or have been in close contact with some with TB. Tell them if you have diabetes, a long-lasting (chronic) lung disease, HIV or a weak immune system.

If you have signs of an infection, call your doctor right away. Signs may include: a fever, sweating, chills, a sore that won’t heal, sore throat, red, warm or painful skin or sores, muscle aches, changes in phlegm color, blood in phlegm, pain or burning when you urinate, urinating more often, a cough, shortness of breath, sores in your mouth, diarrhea or stomach pain, or weight loss.

Why is Xeljanz prescribed?

Xeljanz (tofacitinib) is approved by the FDA to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ulcerative colitis, ankylosing spondylitis and polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis. It is available as an oral tablet, oral solution, and as an extended-release tablet known as Xeljanz XR.

The active ingredient in Xeljanz is tofacitinib, an immunosuppressant medicine. It is classified as a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor and blocks JAK enzymes in the cell. Blocking JAK helps to control inflammation (swelling, pain) and reduce or prevent joint damage.

Do not stop taking Xeljanz without first speaking with your healthcare provider. Stopping your treatment may worsen your condition.

Further information: Xeljanz Uses, Safety and Side Effects (in more detail)

This is not all the information you need to know about Xeljanz (tofacitinib) for safe and effective use and does not take the place of talking to your doctor about your treatment. Review the full Xeljanz information here, and discuss this information and any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.


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