Xeljanz cancer and cardiac risks

I am crushed. This is the one that actually helped me after being on Mtx, Enbrel, Humira, Cosentyx, Remicade, and Otezla - all of those had minimal to zero results. Now I find that there is an article from Feb 2021 about disappointing post-marketing study showing that individuals receiving Xeljanz were more likely to develop the major adverse cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke, and more likely to have cancer than those receiving drugs such as Humira and Enbrel. :worried: :disappointed: :cry: I really don’t know what to do. I’ve been on Xeljanz since October 2020 and don’t know if I should continue. [Pfizer Shares Co-Primary Endpoint Results from Post-Marketing Required Safety Study of XELJANZ® (tofacitinib) in Subjects with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) | Pfizer] the press release came out Wednesday, January 27, 2021. https://www.pfizer.com/news/press-release/press-release-detail/pfizer-shares-co-primary-endpoint-results-post-marketing

That’s not the news you want, is it?

Still though, the total rate with Xelinjaz wasn’t that much higher - 2.55% of people with TNFi and 3.37% with Xelinjaz had events - most of which would have happened anyway, but there was clearly 0.82% extra events over and above the TNFi.

In the context of the study, what that means is that docs will probably choose to try the TNFi first, as the risk profile is a bit better.

But if you’ve tried the TNFi’s and they weren’t effective, then isn’t the comparison between untreated disease and Xelinjaz?

I’ve just recently had to move onto a treatment with a different risk profile - and though there are things I don’t like about it, it is better than the risk profile of the disease.

I know it still sucks. It’s obviously worth a conversation with your Rheumy, but you can take your time weighing up the pros and cons with her / his help.


Oh my gosh, I didn’t know that about the cardiac risks. I had heard about the cancer risks though. It is very scary. I am on xeljanz as well. It’s not an easy decision to make.

Xeljanz was my miracle until I got a rare lymphoma. I am so sick of being sick ( woe is me). I don’t know anymore…who knows if Biologics caused my lymphoma or just having the PSA ( and ulcerative colitis) caused it. Currently on Ortezla…not as well controlled as Xeljanz. ( prior to Xeljanz : Humira, Remicade, Stelera ). I wish I had other options. Going to get some Cortisone injections in my feet and piraformis

Thanks for sharing @Bow. I guess we all are on edge waiting to see if one or more of the potential serious side effects will catch up with us and lymphoma can be concerning. I think xeljanze is on its way out and Rinvoq will replace it. Maybe you’ll have success with it.

So sorry to hear - it’s hard enough trying to juggle PsA and UC, the added risks that can come with some of our medications - and then, as you say, to get a major diagnosis like lymphoma and not even be able to tell whether the meds contributed, it’s like we are trying to make decisions in a swirling fog of uncertainty all the time!

The direct contribution of meds to cancers has largley been dispelled https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5947561/ Bow is correct just having an auto-immune disease adds all kinds of risk factors from heart to cancers (I’ve had 'em all) Here’s the cool thing whether your doc believes in a med/disease risk or disease/disease risk, It doesn’t matter. Just routine blood testing and continuum of care for PsA catches this stuff very quickly making it more of a bump in the road than a car swallowing pothole.