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The Truth About Xeljanz and its Numerous Health Risks

When we feel pain or discomfort, we take medicine in order to alleviate that pain, not to exacerbate it. However, when a drug’s risks outweigh its benefits, the results can be catastrophic and wide-reaching. We as consumers are essentially forced to trust that the manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies who supply our medications have fully tested their products and advertised potential risk factors. As a personal injury firm, we’re here to tell you that this is unfortunately not always the case. 

Xeljanz (tofacitinib) is a drug used to treat both ulcerative colitis and various forms of arthritis. It’s only been on the market since 2012, however in recent years studies have shown that prolonged Xeljanz use can lead to cancer, blood clots, and numerous heart-related conditions. At Van Law Firm, or dangerous drug and product liability attorneys are currently pursuing Xeljanz cases so that injury victims can get the compensation they need as well as some much-needed closure. 

What is Xeljanz?

Xeljanz is known as a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor, meaning that it works to prevent frequent inflammation for those with chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis. Essentially, there are proteins in your body called cytokines, and they increase in quantity whenever your immune system is fighting off infection. Medical professionals believe that increased cytokine production is a contributing factor for the conditions mentioned above, and so JAK inhibitors such as Xeljanz are prescribed to help block or mitigate the effects of cytokines within your body. 

In terms of history, Xeljanz has only been in circulation for less than ten years, which is almost nothing compared to most dangerous medications. In fact, it actually gained momentum over the course of its short-lived “prime years,” in that the FDA awarded the drug numerous approvals, which increased both its patient base and its profits. From 2012 through 2020, Xeljanz was approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis. 

Xeljanz Research Garners Alarming Results 

For the most part, the general public has no choice but to trust that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extensively tested and studied each drug that reaches retail shelves. This is true for the majority–however, some drugs are asked to submit to post-marketing studies as a condition for approval, which is a little backwards when you spell it out. These studies are tedious and usually take multiple years to complete, while the drug is being sold all over the country in the meantime. Xeljanz was one such example of this. 

Blood Clots

Back when Xeljanz was granted approval in 2012, the FDA mandated a safety study which was referred to as ORAL Surveillance. The study came under heavy scrutiny in 2019 when Pfizer, the drug’s manufacturer, decided to change the protocol while the study was still ongoing, which many felt invalidated much of the work that had been done to that point. 

As it turns out, the FDA had warned Pfizer about increased levels of both blood clots in the lungs and overall mortality. The company then added new warnings about thrombosis to the drug’s packaging, but failed to make any changes to the drug itself. Thrombosis can happen whenever a blood clot causes a blockage in a vein or artery–deep vein thrombosis (DVT), arterial thrombosis, and pulmonary embolisms have all been cited by Xeljanz claimants. 

Anyone with a history of Xeljanz use that has experienced the following symptoms is encouraged to stop and seek medical attention right away: 

  • Loss of breath or trouble breathing
  • Chest pain that increases with deep breathing
  • Inflammation of the arms or legs 
  • Significant bruising or tenderness in the legs 
  • Discoloration of the skin on your arms or legs


Unfortunately the bad news didn’t stop there, as the FDA announced in February of 2021 that researchers had also found a substantial increase of cancer risk among Xeljanz patients, and Pfizer eventually announced themselves that numerous ailments had been noted in Xeljanz studies, from lymphoma to lung, breast, and prostate cancer. 

Cardiovascular (CV) Risks

As if there wasn’t enough headache for Xeljanz users, major adverse cardiovascular events, or MACEs, were also cited at length. According to Pfizer, there were over 130 study participants that experienced a MACE, with heart attack as the leading event. 

That’s not all, as the following MACEs were also cited: 

  • Acute coronary syndrome
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Cardiac arrest

It’s clear at this point that the drug has inflicted more pain than it could ever hope to aleve. Furthermore, it should have never been approved in the first place, and Pfizer’s insistence on keeping the drug on store shelves is reckless and negligent to say the least. Xeljanz users need to consider coming forward to help bring this unacceptable behavior to light–potential claimants should gather the necessary information, including prescription records, medical bills, and a diagnosis of cancer, blood clots, or heart disease. 

Contact Elite Xeljanz Attorneys
Fighting a large-scale pharmaceutical company is a difficult task that requires a large and highly-skilled firm. Luckily for Xeljanz users, Van Law Firm has both the resources and expertise to meet these manufacturers head-on. With decades of combined litigation and trial experience, we’ve seen it all and settled it all. Call our location nearest to you today to speak with our trusted team of Xeljanz attorneys and see what your claim may be worth with a free consultation and case evaluation.