Dangerous Drug Used to Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Xeljanz

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) patients who take Xeljanz may experience severe side effects. Lawyers are reviewing cases for lawsuits against drug companies for failing to warn patients and doctors about the dangers of severe and sometimes fatal blood clots. If you were harmed taking Xeljanz, you might want to consider having a lawyer help decide if a lawsuit is right for you.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Sources report that approximately one and a half million people in the US have RA. Women get RA almost three times more than men. Women are usually diagnosed with RA between age 30 and age 60, with men usually receiving a diagnosis when they are older. It is uncertain whether RA runs in families.

RA is an autoimmune disease. What does this mean? RA occurs when the body’s immune system, which usually protects us by attacking foreign cells attacks our body’s joints. The result is inflammation that causes the synovium, which is the tissue lining the inside of joints, to grow thick, preventing the synovium from lubricating the joints properly. This causes swelling and pain around the joints as well as stiffness.

In addition to pain, inflammation can cause permanent damage to your cartilage and bones. Joint damage, which is irreversible, can result in the loosening of the joints, instability, loss of mobility, and severe pain. Most doctors suggest that RA be diagnosed as soon as possible and treated aggressively to try to avoid permanent disability.

RA typically affects the feet, ankles, elbows, hands, and wrists. It usually affects the body symetrically. For example, if the right ankle is affected by RA, the left one is as well. RA can also be systemic. It can affect the respiratory system and cardiovascular system.

The following symptoms indicate that RA may be present:

  • Feeling stiff in the morning for more than 30 minutes
  • Joint pain, tenderness, swelling or stiffness that lasts for six weeks or longer
  • Feeling joint pain in more than one joint
  • The pain and swelling are confined to small joints such as spots on your hands or feed.
  • The pain, tenderness, and swelling are symmetrical meaning the same joints on both sides of your body are affected
  • More than one joint is affected
  • The pain is accompanied by fatigue, loss of appetite, and a low fever.

Some patients with RA experience prolonged periods with minimal discomfort, indicating the disease is not very active. Often, patients have “flares” or RA “flares-up,” meaning that the disease is very active. During a flare, people with RA experience more inflammation and painful symptoms, which can last from a few days to several months.

In addition to pain, high inflammation associated with RA can also affect the rest of the body. RA can cause the following problems:

  • Dry, painful, red eyes, sensitivity to light and impaired vision
  • Dry mouth and gum irritation or infection
  • Rheumatoid nodules on the skin which are small lumps located under the skin covering bony areas
  • Inflamed and scarred lungs which can result in shortness of breath
  • Inflamed blood vessels which can lead to nerve damage and damage to organs
  • Anemia which is a below normal number of red blood cells and causes extreme fatigue and other problems

Treatments for RA

Some meds try to ease the symptoms of RA. Anti-Inflammatory or NASIDS fall into this category, including over the counter drugs like Advil or Motrin, and some which are prescription such as Naproxen.

Steroids may also target flare-ups of RA by reducing inflammation, pain, and slowing joint damage. Unfortunately, steroids over the long-term cause significant damage to the body and are not generally prescribed for long term use.

DMARDs are disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs that aim to slow the progression of RA and the damage it causes to joints. Methotrexate is a DMARD commonly used to treat RA.

Biologics or biologic response modifiers are a newer subcategory of DMARDs that include Humira, Enbrel, and Xeljanz.

Doctors Prescribe Xeljanz to Help Patients Who Suffer From Rheumatoid Arthritis

Xeljanz, unlike other biologics, attacks the Janus kinase pathways (JAK) which are essential players in the body’s immune system that affects inflammation. One of the most attractive features of Xeljanz is that unlike many other medications used to treat the progression of RA, Xeljanz is taken orally. Taking it by mouth allows patients to avoid the painful task of self -injecting or the inconvenience of going to a medical facility for infusions.

Xeljanz works by inhibiting the production cytokines, which are proteins found in the body that help control how the immune system responds to certain situations. When our bodies fight infections, our body increases cytokine production. People with RA, however produce excessive amounts of cytokines, which this leads to the joint inflammation and pain that accompany RA.

According to the video on the Xeljanz website explaining how it works, Xeljanz disrupts cell signals in the Janus kinase (JKA) pathways to reduce the production of cytokines. If the body produces fewer cytokines, the body will not attack its own joints, and the symptoms of RA will not occur.
In people with psoriatic arthritis and ulcerative colitis, the drug works the same way to lower inflammatory responses that cause the symptoms associated with those diseases.

Side Effects of Xeljanz May Result In Lawsuits

Unfortunately, RA patients who take Xeljanz are at risk of some severe side effects, many of which can be found on the drug label. However, noticeably absent from Pfizer’s warnings to patients and doctors is the risk of patients developing Pulmonary embolism (PE) or Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) while taking Xeljanz.

Some victims of this serious side effect may consider filing lawsuits alleging that Pfizer:

  • Failed to warn patients of the risks
  • Did not warn doctors of the risks
  • Knew about the dangers
  • Should have known about the dangers
  • Concealed the dangers
  • Made a defective product

These victims want to hold Pfizer accountable for the negligence that caused injuries to themselves and their loved ones.

Contact Us

If you take Xeljanz and have experienced severe injuries or side effects such as DVT or PE, call Alonso Krangle, LLP to find out if you qualify for a Xeljanz claim. You may be able to collect monetary damages for your injuries, including medical expenses, pain, and suffering. You can reach our office at (800) 403-6191. Time may be of the essence, so call today to protect your legal rights.