All About Rinvoq


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What is Rinvoq?

If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), your doctor may prescribe Rinvoq for you. It’s used to treat moderate to severe RA in certain adults. With RA, you have pain and damage to joints throughout your body.

If you’d like to learn more about RA and how Rinvoq is used to treat it, see the “What is Rinvoq used for?” section below.

Rinvoq comes as a tablet that you’ll swallow once daily.

The active drug in Rinvoq is upadacitinib. Rinvoq isn’t available in a generic form.

Read on to learn more about Rinvoq, including its side effects, its uses, and how it’s taken.

What are Rinvoq’s side effects?

Like most drugs, Rinvoq may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of the more common side effects that Rinvoq may cause. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.

Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of Rinvoq. They can also suggest ways to help reduce these side effects.

Mild side effects

Here’s a short list of some of the mild side effects that Rinvoq can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist or read Rinvoq’s medication guide.

Mild side effects of Rinvoq can include:

  • cough*
  • fever*
  • nausea*
  • upper respiratory tract infections, such as tonsillitis and the common cold

Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. But if they become bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

* For more information on this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from Rinvoq can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from Rinvoq, call your doctor right away. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.

Serious side effects can include:

  • boxed warnings* for:
    • serious infections
    • cancer
    • blood clots
  • changes in your levels of:
    • red blood cells
    • white blood cells
    • liver enzymes
    • cholesterol
  • perforation (tear) in your stomach, small intestine, or large intestine
  • allergic reaction (see the “Side effect focus” section below for more information)

* Rinvoq has a boxed warning for these side effects. For more information, see the “Boxed warnings” section at the beginning of this article.

Side effect focus

Learn more about some of the side effects that Rinvoq may cause.

Cough

Cough is one of the most common side effects of Rinvoq.

Cough can also be a symptom of infection. And serious infections are another possible side effect of Rinvoq. If you have a cough while you’re taking Rinvoq, be sure to tell your doctor. They may want to check for other signs of infection.

What might help

If you have a cough while you’re taking Rinvoq, there are several natural remedies and medications that you can try.

Honey, thyme, and pineapple are a few items you might have around the house that can help relieve your cough. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and to help loosen up mucus that may come with your cough.

Taking over-the-counter (OTC) products that contain dextromethorphan, guaifenesin, or both — such as Robitussin DM or Mucinex — can also help. But be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medications with Rinvoq.

If your cough gets worse or won’t go away, call your doctor.

Nausea

Nausea is another common side effect of Rinvoq.

Nausea can sometimes cause dehydration (low fluid level). This is especially true if nausea leads to vomiting.

What might help

If you tend to feel nauseated after taking Rinvoq, try taking each dose with bland food. This can help settle your stomach and relieve your nausea.

Chewing on a small piece of ginger root can also help reduce nausea. You can use fresh ginger or crystallized or candied ginger. You could also make ginger tea by steeping ginger in hot water. Then, sip the tea slowly when the temperature is right for you.

You can also try taking medications to help control your nausea. Pepto-Bismol and dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) are a couple of OTC drugs that you can try. But be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medications with Rinvoq.

If your nausea becomes severe or isn’t getting better, talk with your doctor.

Fever

You may have a fever while taking Rinvoq. Fever was a common side effect that happened in studies of the drug.

Keep in mind that infections can also cause fever. So be sure to talk with your doctor if you get a fever while you’re taking Rinvoq. They can check to see if you have an infection.

What might help

Fever can usually be relieved with rest and by drinking fluids.

But you can also try adjusting the room temperature or bathing in lukewarm water to help lower your body temperature. Taking ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can also help. But be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medications with Rinvoq.

If your fever doesn’t get better after 3 days or your body temperature is above 103°F (39.4°C), call your doctor right away.

Allergic reaction

Some people may have an allergic reaction to Rinvoq. Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

  • rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (warmth, swelling, or redness in your skin)

A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. They can also include swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing.

Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Rinvoq. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.

What is Rinvoq used for?

Rinvoq is used for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in certain adults.

Rinvoq is prescribed for people who’ve tried a drug called methotrexate in the past but either:

  • their condition didn’t improve with methotrexate, or
  • they had bothersome effects from methotrexate

With RA, you have pain and damage to the joints throughout your body. RA usually damages joints on both sides of your body. This means that if a joint in one of your legs or arms is damaged, the same joint in your other leg or arm will also be damaged. The presence of damaged joints on both sides of your body helps doctors distinguish RA from other types of arthritis.

Rinvoq belongs to a group of drugs called Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors. JAK inhibitors are used to slow down the activity of your immune system. This can help relieve some of your RA symptoms, such as damage to your joints.

This drug isn’t meant to be used with certain other drugs that work on your immune system. Your doctor can tell you which drugs may or may not be used with Rinvoq.

How is Rinvoq taken?

Your doctor will explain how you should take Rinvoq. They’ll also explain how much to take and how often. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. Below are commonly used dosages, but always take the dosage your doctor prescribes.

Taking Rinvoq

Rinvoq comes as a tablet that you’ll swallow.

Dosage

Rinvoq is usually taken once per day.

Questions about taking Rinvoq

Below are answers to some questions you may have about taking Rinvoq.

  • What if I miss a dose of Rinvoq? You should take your missed dose as soon as you remember. But if it’s almost time for your next dose, you can skip your missed dose and pick up on your regular dosing schedule. If you have any questions about a missed dose, call your doctor.
  • Will I need to use Rinvoq long term? Yes, you’ll probably use Rinvoq long term. Be sure to talk with your doctor about the treatment plan that’s right for you.
  • Can Rinvoq be chewed, crushed, or split? No, Rinvoq tablets shouldn’t be chewed, crushed, or split. If you have trouble swallowing pills, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Should I take Rinvoq with food? No, you don’t have to take Rinvoq with food. You can take the drug with or without it.
  • How long does Rinvoq take to work? You’ll probably take Rinvoq for several weeks before you notice an improvement in your RA symptoms.

What should be considered before taking Rinvoq?

If you’re planning to take Rinvoq, it’s important to talk with your doctor about your overall health and any medical conditions you may have.

Here are a few other things to consider before taking Rinvoq.

Interactions

Using medications, vaccines, foods, and other things with a certain drug can affect how the drug works. These effects are called interactions.

Before taking Rinvoq, be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take (including prescription and over-the-counter types). Also, describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you about any interactions that these items may cause with Rinvoq.

Interactions with drugs or supplements

Rinvoq can interact with several types of drugs. These drugs include:

  • antibiotics
  • anticonvulsants
  • antifungals
  • antivirals
  • calcium channel blockers
  • corticosteroids

This list doesn’t contain all types of drugs that may interact with Rinvoq. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about these interactions and any others that may occur with use of Rinvoq.

Other interactions

It’s best to avoid grapefruit while taking Rinvoq. Eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while taking this drug can affect how it works for you.

It’s also recommended that you avoid getting live vaccines while taking Rinvoq. When you get a live vaccine, you’re injected with a small amount of a live virus. A healthy person’s immune system then learns how to fight the virus to protect them from it.

But Rinvoq can weaken your immune system. This lowers the likelihood that your body will respond properly to the vaccine. So, getting a live vaccine while taking Rinvoq can raise your risk for contracting the virus instead of becoming protected from it.

If you’re taking Rinvoq, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist before getting any vaccines.

Boxed warnings

Rinvoq has boxed warnings about serious infections, cancer, and blood clots.

Boxed warnings are serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about drug effects that may be dangerous. These warnings are described below:

  • Serious infections. Some people who take Rinvoq get serious infections, such as tuberculosis. Tell your doctor right away if you have any symptoms of infection while taking this drug.
  • Cancer. Taking Rinvoq might increase your likelihood for getting certain cancers, such as lymphoma (a type of cancer that affects your lymphatic system). If you’re concerned about your risk for cancer while taking this drug, talk with your doctor.
  • Blood clots. Blood clots can occur in some people who take Rinvoq. These clots may occur in your legs, lungs, or arteries. Be sure to tell your doctor about any past blood clots that you’ve had. And ask them about possible symptoms of blood clots and your risk for developing a clot.

Other warnings

Rinvoq may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Rinvoq. Factors to consider include those mentioned below.

Diverticulitis. Before taking Rinvoq, tell your doctor if you have a history of a condition called diverticulitis. Having diverticulitis can raise your chance for having a tear in your stomach, small intestine, or large intestine while taking Rinvoq.

Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Rinvoq or any of its ingredients, you shouldn’t take this drug. Ask your doctor about which other medications are better options for you.

Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Using NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve), may raise your risk for having a tear in your stomach or intestines while taking Rinvoq. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you’re taking before starting Rinvoq.

Use with alcohol

Drinking alcohol while taking Rinvoq isn’t thought to be harmful. But if you do drink alcohol, it’s important to talk with your doctor first. They can tell you how much alcohol is safe to drink while you’re taking Rinvoq.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Taking Rinvoq during pregnancy may be harmful to a developing fetus. For this reason, you shouldn’t use Rinvoq during pregnancy. Also, you should try to avoid becoming pregnant until at least 4 weeks after taking your last dose of Rinvoq.

Rinvoq can pass into breast milk, so breastfeeding while taking Rinvoq also isn’t recommended. You should wait for at least 6 days after your last dose of the drug before breastfeeding.

Be sure to talk with your doctor before taking this drug during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

Frequently asked questions about Rinvoq

Find answers to some commonly asked questions about Rinvoq.

Is Rinvoq used to treat atopic dermatitis?

Yes, Rinvoq is sometimes used to treat atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is a type of eczema that causes dry and itchy skin.

A study showed that Rinvoq reduced the symptoms of atopic dermatitis after the drug was used for 16 weeks. But keep in mind that Rinvoq isn’t approved to treat atopic dermatitis. So, using the drug for this condition is an off-label use. (With off-label use, a drug that’s approved for one use is given for another use.)

If you’re interested in using Rinvoq to treat this condition, talk with your doctor.

Can I take Rinvoq if I haven’t tried other rheumatoid arthritis treatments in the past?

No, probably not.

Rinvoq is used for adults whose rheumatoid arthritis (RA) hasn’t improved with methotrexate (Trexall), which is another drug used to treat RA. For this reason, you likely won’t be prescribed Rinvoq unless you’re taking methotrexate or have taken it in the past.

If you have questions about other RA treatments, talk with your doctor.

Will Rinvoq affect my cholesterol?

Yes, Rinvoq might affect your cholesterol. Rinvoq may cause high cholesterol in some people.

After you’ve taken the drug for several weeks, your doctor will likely order a cholesterol test for you. If the test shows that you have high cholesterol, you might be prescribed a cholesterol-lowering drug.

If you’d like, ask your doctor about diet tips for a healthy cholesterol level.

What does Rinvoq cost?

Costs of prescription drugs can vary depending on many factors. These factors include what your insurance plan covers and which pharmacy you use. To find current prices for Rinvoq tablets in your area, visit GoodRx.com.

If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also visit the Rinvoq manufacturers’ website to see if they have support options.

What should be done in case of overdose?

Don’t take more Rinvoq than your doctor prescribes. Using more than this can lead to serious side effects.

What to do in case you take too much Rinvoq

Call your doctor if you think you’ve taken too much Rinvoq. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers, or you can use their online resource. But if you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 (or your local emergency number) or go to the nearest emergency room.

Ask your doctor

There are other treatments available for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). If you have questions about which treatment option is right for you, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

You might also want to ask your doctor a few questions about Rinvoq, such as:

  • Will Rinvoq cure my RA?
  • How is Rinvoq different from other drugs used to treat RA?
  • Which vaccines are safe for me to get while I’m taking Rinvoq?

For more information about managing RA, sign up for our RA newsletter here.

Q:

Can I take Rinvoq with other rheumatoid arthritis treatments?

Anonymous patient

A:

Yes. If your doctor thinks it’s right for you, they may prescribe Rinvoq with certain other rheumatoid arthritis treatments.

You may be given Rinvoq alone. Or you may be given it with either methotrexate or another treatment, such as sulfasalazine or hydroxychloroquine.

But Rinvoq won’t be given to you with certain other drugs called biologics, which work on your immune system. (Biologics are drugs made from living cells.) Rinvoq also won’t be given to you with other drugs that work in a similar way. These include tofacitinib (Xeljanz) and immunosuppressants such as azathioprine (Azasan).

Your doctor can tell you which drugs may or may not be used with Rinvoq.

Purva Singla, PharmDAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.

Healthline

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.


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