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Network Matters
News and Information for the
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Network

January 2013

Pharmacy Update: Xeljanz (tofacitinib) Requires Prior Authorization 


Recently, the FDA approved Xeljanz (tofacitinib) tablets for the treatment of moderate-to-severe active rheumatoid arthritis in adults who haven’t been helped by or who can’t take the medication methotrexate. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissue.

Xeljanz may be used alone or in combination with methotrexate or other nonbiologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDS). However, Xeljanz should not be used in combination with biologic DMARDs or with potent immunosuppressants such as azathioprine and cyclosporine.

Xeljanz works differently from other rheumatoid arthritis medications; it inhibits the Janus kinase (JAK) pathway, a signaling pathway inside cells that plays an important role in the inflammation involved in rheumatoid arthritis.

Xeljanz requires a prior authorization to ensure its use as a second line therapy and only with an appropriate diagnosis. Xeljanz is available through Curascript specialty pharmacy. For information, visit Harvard Pilgrim’s pharmacy page.

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