Opzelura: Uses – Side Effects – Warnings

Opzelura (Upadacitinib) is a JAK inhibitor – a drug that helps to regulate immune response by blocking the activity of Janus kinases that are involved in signaling inflammation. It is used to treat different types of inflammatory disorders such as severe rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis.

In this article, we will discuss the uses, benefits, side effects, and warnings of this medication in detail.

Uses of Opzelura

Opzelura is prescribed for the following purposes:

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

Opzelura is indicated for the treatment of moderate-to-severe RA in adults who have not responded adequately to one or more disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). It is used alone or in combination with methotrexate.

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA)

Opzelura is indicated for the treatment of PsA in adults, who have not responded to one or more DMARDs. It can be used alone or in combination with other medications.

Atopic dermatitis (AD)

Opzelura is indicated for the treatment of moderate-to-severe AD in adults who are candidates for systemic therapy.

Benefits of Opzelura

Opzelura works by blocking a group of enzymes called Janus Kinases, which play a significant role in inflammation and immune responses. By suppressing these kinases, the drug helps reduce inflammation and prevent the symptoms of the condition.

The drug also helps reduce joint damage and improve physical function in patients with RA and PsA. It also significantly improves skin lesions, scaling, and itching of patients with moderate-to-severe AD.

Side Effects of Opzelura

Opzelura may cause a range of side effects depending on the patient’s condition, age, and health status. Some common side effects include:

– Nausea
– Diarrhea
– Headache
– Upper respiratory tract infection
– Increased levels of liver enzymes

Less commonly, the drug can cause more severe side effects that may require medical attention, such as:

– Infections, including serious bacterial, fungal, and viral infections
– Lymphoma and other cancers
– Blood clots in the legs or lungs
– Liver injury
– Worsening of existing tuberculosis infections
– Reactions at the injection site (AD only)
– Abnormal blood tests, such as low white blood cell count, low platelet count, or high blood cholesterol levels

Warnings for Opzelura

Before taking Opzelura, it is essential to be aware of the following warnings:

– Infections: Opzelura can increase the risk of developing severe bacterial, viral, fungal, and protozoal infections, including tuberculosis. Patients who experience signs of infection should seek medical attention immediately.

– Malignancies: Some patients taking Opzelura may experience an increased risk of developing lymphoma or other cancers. Patients should report any unusual symptoms, including unexplained weight loss, lumps, or swelling.

– Gastrointestinal perforations: Patients taking Opzelura may experience gastrointestinal perforations. The drug should be discontinued if this complication is suspected.

– Blood clots: Patients taking Opzelura may be at an increased risk of developing blood clots. Patients should seek medical attention right away if they experience swelling, redness, or warmth in the legs.

– Hepatitis B: Opzelura can reactivate hepatitis B in patients who are carriers of the virus. Patients should be screened for hepatitis B before starting treatment, and monitoring should continue throughout therapy.

FAQs

1. How long does Opzelura take to work in treating RA, PsA, or AD?

Opzelura’s onset of action varies among individuals. Some patients may start to feel improvement in symptoms within a few weeks, while others may take months.

2. Is Opzelura safe for use during pregnancy?

Opzelura is not recommended for use during pregnancy. Women who are breastfeeding should also avoid using the drug, as it may pass into breast milk.

3. What should I do if I miss a dose of Opzelura?

If you miss an Opzelura dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the scheduled dose.

4. Can Opzelura be used with other medications?

Opzelura should not be combined with other JAK inhibitors or some immunosuppressants unless recommended by a doctor. Before starting any new medications, patients should inform their doctors or pharmacists about the drugs they are already taking.

5. Can Opzelura be used in children?

Opzelura’s use in children is not recommended, and the safety and effectiveness of the drug in this population have not been established.

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