Xeljanz Shows Efficacy for Polymyalgia Rheumatica, Study Shows

The goal of polymyalgia rheumatica treatment is to reduce inflammation and control or manage the other symptoms. As such, the current standard-of-care includes long-term corticosteroid treatment. According to MedPage Today, findings from a Phase 2 study discovered that Xeljanz (tofacitinib) could offer increased treatment efficacy for patients within this community. 

Altogether, there were 14 participants who enrolled in the study. A majority of the participants were female. All patients had highly active polymyalgia rheumatica. While three participants had been previously treated with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), the remaining 11 participants were newly diagnosed and thus treatment-naive. During the course of the study, patients received 15mg prednisone and 10mg Xeljanz daily, later tapered to 2.5mg, over a 20-week period. Study results, published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, show that:

  • 12 out of the 14 patients achieved remission by 20 weeks. 100% of patients achieved remission by 48 weeks. 
  • Six patients were able to completely stop daily steroid use. In others, steroid use was significantly reduced.
  • Xeljanz treatment reduced pain, stiffness, and disease biomarkers like tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). 
  • This treatment was relatively safe and well-tolerated. Side effects included increased serum creatinine and alanine aminotransferase levels, as well as upper respiratory infections. 

What is Polymyalgia Rheumatica? 

Polymyalgia rheumatica is an inflammatory disorder that causes widespread aching and stiffness throughout the body; though doctors are unsure of the exact cause, many believe it to be an autoimmune disorder, meaning the immune system mistakenly attacks its own joints and tissues. It is most common in females, Caucasians, and people older than 50 years old. Symptoms related to polymyalgia rheumatica may last from between one to five years. These symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Joint pain, stiffness, inflammation, and aching
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Appetite loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Neck, hip, buttock, upper arm, shoulder, and thigh pain and stiffness
  • Giant cell arteritis (complication) 
Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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