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JAK Inhibitors and Injuries

What Are JAK Inhibitors?

Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors belong to a family of medications called DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs). The medications are used to help ease joint pain and swelling from rheumatoid arthritis (RA). They work by decreasing an overactive immune system which is the body’s defense against germs. There are three main JAK inhibitor medications – baricitinib (Olumiant), tofacitinib (Xeljanz), and upadacitinib (Rinvoq) – that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA). 

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, your body produces too many proteins, known as cytokines, that play a role in creating inflammation. Some cytokines attach to receptors on immune cells. When this occurs, the body sends a message to make even more cytokines which cause more inflammation. However, JAK inhibitors stop this process by blocking the messaging pathway that tells the cell to make even more cytokines. This calms down your immune system and helps ease RA symptoms.

JAK Inhibitor Injuries

JAK inhibitors have been linked to an increased risk of venous thromboembolic events.  Unfortunately, there is no warning label about the risk of thromboembolic events on popular JAK inhibitors, including Xeljanz and Jakafi. 

Venous thromboembolism is a condition that is a combination of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms (usually in the deep veins of the leg, groin, or arm). Pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when the blood clot breaks off, travels throughout the body, then lodges in the lungs blocking some or all of the blood supply. The combination of DVT and PE forming venous thromboembolism is dangerous and can be potentially fatal. There are 10 million cases of venous thromboembolism every year. 

Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis: 

  • Pain or tenderness (usually starting in the calf) 
  • Swelling (usually in the ankle or foot) 
  • Redness or discoloration 
  • Warmth 

Symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism: 

  • Unexplained shortness of breath 
  • Rapid breathing 
  • Chest pain (usually worse with deep breathing) 
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Lightheadedness or passing out 

Venous Thromboembolic Events Include

  • Pulmonary thrombosis 
  • Pulmonary embolism 
  • Portal vein thrombosis 
  • Deep vein thrombosis 
  • Thrombosis

Popular JAK Inhibitor- Xeljanz

JAK inhibitors such as the popular rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ulcerative colitis medication Xeljanz have been potentially linked to an increased likelihood of suffering venous thromboembolic events such as pulmonary thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, portal vein thrombosis, deep vein thrombosis, and thrombosis. The medication has also been linked to a possible increased risk of developing blood clots, strokes, and Major Adverse Cardiac Events (MACE) such as heart attacks and cardiac arrests. 

To learn more about the Xeljanz’s approval history and the study potentially connecting Xeljanz to serious complications, review our Xeljanz Safety Evaluation Timeline. 

Read more about the MACE injuries that have been linked to Xeljanz. Read more about the blood clots and strokes that have been connected to Xeljanz. 

For information about the Xeljanz lawsuit, check out our Xeljanz Area of Practice page.

How GoldenbergLaw Can Help

If you or a loved one have suffered harm after taking Xeljanz, contact the Dangerous Drug Attorneys at GoldenbergLaw. Our team has over thirty years of experience providing clients with the Gold standard advocacy. We will give you a free consultation and you can leave the sleepless nights to us!


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