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Medications > Tofacitinib | Xeljanz > Tofacitinib (Xeljanz) – Pictopamphlet

TOFACITINIB (Xeljanz) [Toe-FAH-sit-in-ib]

How to use this medication

What is it

Tofacitinib is a medication used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. While taking this medicine it is important to have your blood tests done and see your doctor on a regular basis.

Take it twice a day

Tofacitinib is taken twice a day.                                                                                                        


Tofacitinib comes in 5 mg tablets. The usual dose is one tablet twice a day.         

Give it some time

Although some patients can feel better quite quickly after receiving the medication, in others it can take a little longer.

What you need to do

Get regular blood tests

Have your blood tested regularly (your doctor will tell you how often). This is important to make sure tofacitinib isn’t affecting your kidneys, liver, blood counts, or cholesterol levels.

Get tested for tuberculosis

All patients should have a tuberculosis skin test & chest
x-ray before starting tofacitinib.  Talk to your doctor.

Don’t take if you have an infection

Tofacitinib can make it harder for you to fight off infections. Call your doctor if:

  • You develop a fever
  • You think you have an infection
  • You are given antibiotics to treat an infection

Don’t get pregnant or breastfeed

Tofacitinib has not been studied in pregnancy.  Let your doctor know if you are planning to get pregnant or if you are breastfeeding. Tofacitinib may harm an unborn child.

Side effects & important things to know


Tofacitinib may cause diarrhea. Let your doctor know if the diarrhea is severe.


Tofacitinib can rarely cause a headache.

Bowel injury

Tofacitinib has rarely been associated with an injury to the bowel (holes in the wall of the bowel). Let your doctor know if you develop stomach pain during your treatment with tofacitinib.


Tofacitinib has very rarely been associated with developing cancer.  Tell your doctor if you have had cancer in the past.


Tofacitinib should be stopped before surgery.  It can be restarted once things have healed and there is no sign of infection.  If you are having surgery, talk to your doctor about when to stop tofacitinib.

Drug interactions

There are some prescription medications that are not safe to take with tofacitinib. Discuss any new medication with your doctor.

When should I call my doctor

Please call if you need to stop

  • If you are concerned about any side effects
  • If you want to or have already decided to stop the medicine

Other Reasons to Call your Doctor:

Fever or think you have an infection

If you are having surgery

If you become pregnant

If you plan to get any vaccinations

If you develop a rash