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New Ulcerative Colitis Medication from Pfizer on the Horizon – Tofacitinib

Adam iHaveUC guy

There is quite a bit of literature, and I’ll provide several links below this posting for you to investigate further, but the general idea on how this medication works is summed up in the quote below (copied page 6 of the actual Pfizer presentation that I was surprised to find online – feel free to read the full presentation  here).


Unlike biologics, which target extracellular molecules such as pro-inflammatory cytokines, tofacitinib targets the intracellular signaling pathways that operate as hubs in the inflammatory cytokine network

My own interpretation in simple English:  this new medication breaks up some of the body’s normal immune response chain of events.  And with this, the physical inflammation(or symptoms as UC’ers see them) may be reduced.

Many of you have been asking what is going on in the world of new ulcerative colitis medications, and here is one example that once/if approved, I’m pretty sure we will all hear more from other UC’ers and GI doctors.

More info about Tofacitinib (Xeljanz – (Brand Name):

The name of the medication is a bit hard to get the hang of pronouncing so let’s not worry about that right:)

(I’m waiting for a drug company to take a chance and just call their UC drug:  “The Buttfixer 5000”)

Here’s a little bit of background on this particular medication:

  • The medication was discovered by Pfizer scientists in Groton, Connecticut (according to their report I referenced above)
  • In November of 2012 the Food and Drug Administration (in the US) approved tofacitinib for the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis (another “auto-immune disease”)
  • Results from their recent UC related Trial are detailed in this Report:  “Randomized trial of tofacitinib in active ulcerative colitis: analysis of efficacy based on patient-reported outcomes” (which you can review here)
  • Wikipedia page regarding Tofacitinib – click here
  • Pfizer PDF showing (on page 6) the status of this medication as well as other IBD related medications: click here
  • It appears that Pfizer is moving in a very similar direction as many of their competitors with regards to trying to gain approval for this medication across a range of auto-immune diseases (arthritis, psoriasis, IBD…)

Online Publications about Tofacitnib:

  • Randomized trial of tofacitinib in active ulcerative colitis: analysis of efficacy based on patient-reported outcomes:  click here to read full study
  • Tofacitinib In Psoriatic Arthritis Subjects With Inadequate Response to TNF Inhibitors (currently as of Feb. 2015 Pfizer is in the middle of a clinical trial enrollment period for this same medication for treating another auto-immune disease- Psoriasis.  Details about this clinical trial – click here

If you’re interested in learning more about this medication, I would encourage you to do some reading on PubMed.(If you’re wanting to learn how to use the PubMed resource, start on the How to Use PubMed Page.  It’s really easy to use.  Once on PubMed, you can search the word: “Tofacitinib” and in a general search you can lookup:

Also, bring it up with western medication gastroenterologist doctors.  Alternative medication doctors/naturopaths are probably not going to be into something like this, but typical GI’s may be aware that this is on the horizon.

As more news comes in about this medication in terms of the FDA approval process, we’ll stay on-top of it and get it posted to the newsletter group.

OK, what do you think…

Tofacitnib and Xeljanz are pretty lame names if you asked me…

What would YOU call this medication if you were the official Pfizer UC Medication Namer person?


Adam Scheuer

23 thoughts on “New Ulcerative Colitis Medication from Pfizer on the Horizon – Tofacitinib”

  1. Mmmm…another new med…

    What does this tell us, do you think?

    Think about it.

    Thank you Adam for always keeping us in the know and looking out for us.

  2. Hi Adam,

    As always, thank you for being on the forefront and caring enough to let the blog know.

    I am curious to know if any of the UC’ers have tried it and if so, by itself or with methotrexate/any other medication or natural cure. Also, is this also yet another medicine that cannot be stopped once started (meaning, it won’t be effective once stopped) or if it can be had only when needed?


  3. We hear all the time that new meds are in the works, so it’s nice to finally see some results. Thanks, Adam, for sharing this. It’s also nice to see that in this particular study patient quality of life was taken into consideration. This is the first study I’ve seen to emphasize that and, hopefully, will be observed in future studies. They note that this was a short-term study, but the results are significant, and it will be interesting to see what the long-term studies observe.

  4. I’m currently on this medication through a clinical trial in the UK. After jumping through a series of metaphorical hoops, and lots of waiting around, I’ve finally got to the real meds and what a difference they are making. I went from having over 60cm of very active disease to 2cm of moderate disease in 8 weeks. My symptoms went from not being able to leave the house, to almost symptom free in 3 DAYS. I cannot say enough about how life changine this medicine has been for me. From my understanding, you have to have quite a strict criteria of symptoms / failed steroid and azathioprine use to be considered for it (in the UK anyway). If you can get on the trial, do it!

  5. Yikes, once again one side effect is leukemia…I don’t think so.

    When is there going to be something that can’t hurt us worse than the UC itself???

    1. I agree Bev! Very scary seeing those possible side effects.

      I think that getting to the root of the toxic thought patterns and eating habits that perpetuate a flare up are better long-term fixes. Using these meds for a short time to get the symptoms under control might be necessary for short-term relief but it is more important to explore the mind-body connection to ensure long-term remission. As someone who has been inflammation-free for two and a half years, I believe that yoga, therapy and meditation brought me a sense of wellness more than any of the meds I was prescribed.

      1. That’s the thing, Cameron. I am far better off now on natural stuff than I was on 15 years of meds! I was so ill on those meds…

        Who only knows if there will be any long term effects from taking them for so long.

        I just cannot justify to myself taking things that can actually CA– USE cancer. It’s enough worry just thinking about colon cancer from inflammation, let alone having to worry about leukemia and lymphoma…I mean REALLY?? How can I put those kinds of carcinogens into my already tired and compromised body?

        I’m happy to hear that you have found a different way as well. In the future, I think a lot of people, doctors and patients alike may be ‘sorry’ that these meds were ever prescribed at all.

        There will be a better, more natural way to combat symptoms.

  6. Does this new UC medication work for Crohns? How bout
    the many medications I read about here? My grandson is
    now on Remicade ( sp) for Chrons. How ‘ bout iron
    infusions vs. oral iron supplements to boost a critically
    low count? Are most Inflammatory Bowel Disease patients
    on the same medications..? Still learning, and reading the
    comments and articles as they come to me. Thank you

    1. Hi Karen,
      I don’t know the answer to that. Often UC medications or “Crohn’s meds” are used for both groups of people. Not always, but often. So, without knowing what Pfizer’s plan is with this medication, I most certainly wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case too.

      Most IBD patients use one of the several medications that we have reviews for on this site.

      Here’s a link to the medications I’m talking about:

      That said, it is not like there’s one medication which 80% of UC’ers use. There are many common/popular/good ones…

      Wishing you the best Karen,


  7. Adam,
    My son started in this clinical trial July 2014. He is 26 years old, was refractory, non responsive to highest dose of remicade at max frequency q 4 weeks with weekly methotrexate. He was quite ill and just withering away. he couldn’t work, was house bound, severe pain, malnourished, infections, etc. He had also failed humira. He did remicade, metho combo for 7 months. He entered the trial as a last ditch effort before having a total colectomy. This drug has been a life saver. He had 100% of colon involved and went to one tiny ulceration about the size of a dime within 10 weeks then complete remission. He started leaving the house, walking then running (was not previously a runner) and ran a 26.2 mile marathon in 4 hours flat 4 months after getting into remission. he is employed, happy and healthy. the only side effect has been headaches in the am. He is now in the maintenance arm of the trial. Amazing and so encouraging. This drug gave him his life back.
    Wanted to share. Patti

  8. Hi All

    I have been on this Med for a few months, and for it has been the 1st one that has worked!

    So let see how long for and if there are any side effects!

  9. Hello — Any additional feedback from users of Xeljanz? We are about to go down the surgery route for husband but just got approved to use this off label.

  10. Just had my one year review and I’m in remission! Can eat, drink whatever I like. No side effects at all. Complete miracle pill, I love it! I did get side effects for a few months, but all easy to handle compared to how I was. Give it a go!

    1. We are giving it a go. Doc prescribed 20mg per day, but that seems high to me based on some of the literature I have read. Eager to start this weekend but not sure if we should talk with doc first. What dosage are you on?

      1. My husband has been on Xeljanz for a year now. Put him in remission (in spite of backslide I mentioned a year ago). He had tried Remicade, Humira, Entyvio but the only thing that worked was prednisone. So far it has been great and no apparent side effects. It is off-label so may be difficult to get insurance approval but we did.

  11. Question for Xeljanz users —

    My husband has been on 20 mg for 4 weeks. First three weeks he felt healthier than he has in years, but this week is a real slide backwards in terms of UC symptoms and feeling lousy. I am wondering whether you had ups and downs, what were the downs, and whether you may have changed dosage at some point? He is intending to stay on it another 4 weeks but wondering whether it is worth it. Thanks

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