Upadacitinib (Rinvoq)

What is Upadacitinib?

Upadacitinib is a medication used in the treatment of atopic dermatitis, a chronic inflammatory skin condition characterised by red, itchy rashes.

It is a member of a class of drugs known as Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors.

Upadacitinib works by blocking some of the key inflammatory pathways involved in atopic dermatitis.

Upadacitinib is also used to treat some other inflammatory joint conditions here in Australia, including psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis. 

How effective is Upadacitinib (Rinvoq)?

In the treatment trials using Upadacitinib to treat atopic dermatitis;

  • Around 3-in-10 eczema patients had complete clearance of their eczema after 4-months
  • Around 7-out-of-10 eczema patients had a 75% reduction in their eczema severity score after 4-months
  • There was a 70% reduction in their eczema-related itch

Frequently Asked Questions

Upadacitinib comes in the form of oral tablets, which are taken daily at 15mg or 30mg dosing. The dosage and duration of treatment will be determined by your response to therapy and tolerability of the drug.

Like all medications, Upadacitinib may cause side effects in some people. The following side effects may occur in more than 5% patients taking Upadacitinib:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Upper respiratory tract infections
  • Elevated levels of a muscle enzyme
  • Acne
  • Folliculitis (inflamed hair follicles)
  • Mild-moderate transient elevation of liver enzymes
  • Elevated cholesterol levels

Serious side effects are uncommon but can occur. The following side effects can occur in 0.5 to 5% of patients on Upadacitinib:

  • Serious infections (fever, chills, cough, persistent sore throat, flu-like symptoms)
  • Shingles (painful, itchy rash with localised small blisters on the skin)
  • Liver injury (yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, persistent nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain)
  • Low blood counts

As opposed to other conditions treated with Upadacitinib, there does not seem to be a higher risk of blood clots, heart attacks, strokes or kidney injury in patients with atopic dermatitis on Upadacitinib compared to those not treated.

All patients should be screened for tuberculosis prior to starting Upadacitinib. Screening for viral hepatitis and varicella zoster should also be considered.

Yes. Given there are several potential side effects of Upadacitinib, regular blood tests are required to monitor for these side effects.

Upadacitinib should not be used during pregnancy. Upadacitinib is excreted in breast milk in animal studies and a risk to infants cannot be excluded.  Upadacitinib should therefore not be used during breastfeeding.

  • Before starting Upadacitinib, inform your healthcare provider about all medications you are currently taking, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as any supplements or herbal remedies.  Upadacitinib can interact with several medications.
  • It is important to attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with your doctor to monitor your response to treatment and any potential side effects.
  • Avoid consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice while taking upadacitinib, as it may increase the levels of the medication in your blood and the risk of side effects.
  • Keep upadacitinib out of reach of children and store it at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

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We are a leading paediatric and adult Allergy, Immunology and Immunopathology group with clinics in the Sydney CBD and Westmead.

Our specialists hold sub-specialised qualifications in allergy and immunology, and pathology, and offer significant clinical experience.

If you have a question about a condition or treatment, or would like to book an appointment, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you.