The JAK inhibitor tofacitinib carries a greater risk of skin cancer, cardiovascular disease, serious infections and death than TNF-alpha inhibitors. The MEB therefore advises practitioners to refrain from using all JAK inhibitors in high-risk groups, unless no good alternative is available. Jaap van Laar, professor of rheumatology, endorses the decision, but calls for people to remain realistic. “Let’s determine for which patients these drugs can still be useful.”
Janus kinase inhibitors (JAK inhibitors) are a new class of drugs that suppress the immune system, reducing the symptoms of various inflammatory diseases. They are approved in the European market for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, eczema or ulcerative colitis, among others. Earlier signals from the field of rheumatology already question the safety of JAK inhibitors: tofacitinib is said to increase the risk of cancer or myocardial infarction in patients with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Baricitinib is also thought to increase the risk of a heart attack or thrombosis.
“It has not been said that a risk translates into an event, but doctors and patients should be aware of this when prescribing JAK inhibitors for a risk group”
Professor of rheumatology Jaap van Laar
These signals were supplemented in January 2022 with real-world data on the effects of tofacitinib. The results of the study provided a clear statistical signal: tofacitinib carries a higher risk of side effects such as k
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