Medication Information Leaflet

What is this medication for?

Tofacitinib is used for the treatment of some types of arthritis and inflammation of the large intestine. Tofacitinib works by suppressing the immune system to help reduce inflammation and improve the symptoms of joint pain and swelling. Tofacitinib does not work immediately and may take weeks to months before you notice any improvement in symptoms. 

How should I take/use this medication?

  • As the dose of Tofacitinib varies among the disease conditions treated, your doctor will prescribe a suitable dose for you. 
  • Do not stop taking your medication without checking with your healthcare professional.
  • You may take this medication with or without food. 

What should I do if I forget to take/use this medication?

If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. Then take your next dose at the usual time. Do not take two doses to make up for the missed dose. 

What precautions should I take?

  • Avoid crowded places and direct contact with any sick person
  • Do not consume raw or undercooked food

Inform your healthcare professional if: 

  • You are allergic to this medication or any of the other ingredients of this medication
  • You are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding. If you are a woman of child bearing age, you should use effective birth control during treatment with Tofacitinib and for at least 4 weeks after the last dose. 
  • You have a history of
    • Kidney condition
    • Liver condition
    • Stomach condition
    • Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C
    • Cancer
  • You have infections or low blood count
  • You are taking any other medications, including supplements, traditional medications and herbal remedies. 

Immunisation status should be current before starting on Tofacitinib. Do not receive any live vaccine while you are on Tofacitinib.

What are some common side-effects of this medication?

Common side effects of Tofacitinib includes:
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
    • Take the medication with or after food if you experience nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Signs of infection like fever, chills, severe sore throat

Inform your doctor if any side effect persists, if you are unable to tolerate them or the side effects become serious.

Tofacitinib may reduce your body’s ability to fight against infection. You should consult a doctor immediately if you develop a fever or feel unwell. Inform the doctor whom you consult that you are taking Tofacitinib as the medication may need to be stopped while you are having an infection.

You may need to have regular blood test to monitor your blood count and cholesterol levels when on Tofacitinib. 

What are some rare but serious side-effects that I need to seek medical advice immediately?

The symptoms of a drug allergy include one or more of the following: 
  • Swollen face/eyes/lips/tongue
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Itchy skin rashes over your whole body

Other rare but serious effects that may occur include: 
  • Signs of liver problems like dark or tea-coloured urine, yellowing of eye white or skin
  • Signs of stomach ulcer like black tarry stools, vomiting of coffee ground material, severe stomach pain. 

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should consult your healthcare professional immediately.

What food or medication should I avoid when I take this medication?

Avoid taking grapefruit or grapefruit juice when you are taking this medication as grapefruit may interact with your medication and increase the risk of side effects.
Please inform your doctor if you are taking any of the following medications, before you start taking Tofacitinib:

  • Rifampicin, a tuberculosis medication
  • Anti-fungal such as Ketoconazole, Fluconazole
  • Immunosuppressant such as Azathioprine, Methotrexate, Cyclosporine, Tacrolimus

How should I store this medication?

Store in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight. Keep this medication away from children. 

How should I throw away this medication safely?

Pack this medication into a black trash bag and seal it tightly before throwing into the rubbish chute or bin. 

If you take more than the recommended dose, please seek medical advice immediately. The information provided on this page does not replace information from your healthcare professional. Please consult your healthcare professional for more information.

This article is jointly developed by members of the National Medication Information workgroup. The workgroup consists of cluster partners (National Healthcare Group, National University Health System and SingHealth), community pharmacies (Guardian, Unity and Watsons) and Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore. The content does not reflect drug availability and supply information in pharmacies and healthcare institutions. You are advised to check with the respective institutions for such information.

Last updated on Sept 2021

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