Arthritis Patients Taking Xeljanz May be at Risk for Pulmonary Embolism

Rheumatologists have a few pharmaceutical options for patients who are suffering from the effects of rheumatoid arthritis. One of those options is tofacitinib citrate, which is sold under the brand name “Xeljanz.” This drug blocks certain naturally-occurring enzymes that cause joint pain, swelling, and stiffness.

A recent safety alert from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (the FDA) revealed that rheumatoid arthritis patients that are taking twice-daily 10-mg doses of Xeljanz have an increased risk of suffering blood clots or pulmonary embolisms, which creates a significantly higher mortality risk.

The medical and pharmaceutical risk attorneys at Chaffin Luhana represent rheumatoid arthritis patients whose health has been further compromised by Xeljanz. If you or a family member are using Xeljanz to treat rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, you may be eligible to file a Xeljanz lawsuit to recover damages if your health has been adversely affected by this medication.

Why Would a Physician Prescribe Xeljanz?

Rheumatoid Arthritis currently has no known cure, and physicians can only prescribe antirheumatic pharmaceuticals that can keep the disease in remission. Those pharmaceuticals include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory products (e.g., ibuprofen), steroids, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, and a newer class of biologic agents, including Xeljanz.

A rheumatologist might prescribe Xeljanz when a rheumatoid arthritis patient does not respond well to other disease-modifying drugs.

 Why Did the FDA Issue a Safety Alert for Xeljanz?

After it approved Xeljanz in 2012, the FDA required Pfizer, the drug’s manufacturer, to conduct further safety trials with respect to a twice daily 10-mg dose of the medicine for rheumatoid arthritis patients. That study showed that patients who were taking that dosage of Xeljanz showed an increased risk for pulmonary embolisms (i.e., lung blood clots) and premature mortality.

The FDA’s safety alert cautioned physicians to follow the drug’s prescribing guidelines for rheumatoid arthritis patients. The 10-mg dosage should be limited to a subclass of rheumatoid arthritis patients who also have ulcerative colitis.

 Should Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Stop Using Xeljanz?

Rheumatoid arthritis patients should not deviate from any prescription drug or other therapies, including their use and dosage of Xeljanz, without first consulting with their physicians. Suddenly stopping or changing a prescription pharmaceutical treatment apart from a physician’s oversight can be dangerous and deadly.

A rheumatoid arthritis patient who is using Xeljanz and who experiences symptoms such as coughing blood, sudden shortness of breath, chest or back pain, excess perspiration, or clammy skin sensations, should seek immediate medical care. In all cases, those patients should ask their physicians about the continued risks that they will be exposed to if they continue using Xeljanz.

 Chaffin Luhana Represents Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients in Xeljanz Lawsuits

Rheumatoid arthritis patients who have suffered severe adverse health consequences as a result of their use of Xeljanz may have a valid cause of action for damages against Pfizer and against the health care professionals who prescribed Xeljanz in dosages that were not explicitly approved by the FDA or recommended by Pfizer. Even if you have not experienced any adverse symptoms, your use of higher dosages of Xeljanz may have long-term consequences for your health.

Please see our website or call Chaffin Luhana’s Pittsburgh offices for more information on filing a Xeljanz lawsuit to recover compensation for the injuries that the drug has caused or may cause to you or your family.

Our defective drug attorneys represent clients throughout the United States who are seeking redress from pharmaceutical companies and health care providers because of their manufacture and distribution of dangerous or unduly risky prescription drug products. Contact us as soon as you can. The applicable statutes of limitations may preclude you from filing your lawsuit if you wait too long.

Additional Resources:

  1. Tofacitinib Citrate (Xeljanz).
  2. FDA: 10-mg Doses of Xeljanz Increase Risk for Blood Clots, Death in RA.
  3. Rheumatoid Arthritis.