What Is Rinvoq® (upadacitinib)?

Written by: T. DeLene Beeland | Last reviewed: June 2022 | Last updated: August 2022

Rinvoq® (upadacitinib) is a drug for moderate to severe atopic dermatitis, or eczema. It is useful for people who are unable to take other medicines, therapies, or biologics for atopic dermatitis, or those who have not responded well to these treatments.1

Rinvoq is available for adults and children over the age of 12 who weigh at least 88 pounds. It helps to relieve the itchiness of atopic dermatitis and clear your skin.1

Rinvoq is part of a new class of drugs called Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors for people with atopic dermatitis. Many experts view JAK inhibitors as a breakthrough in the treatment of atopic dermatitis.1-3

What are the ingredients in Rinvoq?

The active ingredient in Rinvoq is upadacitinib.4

How does Rinvoq work?

The active ingredient in Rinvoq blocks JAK pathways that contribute to an over-response of the immune system. Medicines that interrupt the JAK pathway can interfere with the body making immune proteins called cytokines. Cytokines promote inflammation and play a role in the red and itchy skin that people with atopic dermatitis experience.2,4

Rinvoq can be taken with steroid creams, but talk to your doctor about this combination.1

What are the possible side effects of Rinvoq?

The most common side effects of Rinvoq include:4

  • Upper respiratory tract infections
  • Nausea
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Acne
  • Weight gain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Tiredness
  • Inflammation of hair follicles

Rinvoq has a boxed warning, the strictest warning from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It has this warning because taking JAK inhibitors for inflammatory conditions can cause serious problems in some people.3

Boxed warnings

Boxed warning serious side effects of taking Rinvoq include:4

  • An increased risk of serious infection that could lead to hospitalization or death
  • An increased risk of death
  • An increased risk of cancer, including blood and lung cancers
  • An increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and sudden cardiovascular death
  • An increased risk of blood clots, including those in the lungs and legs

Some of these risks are higher if you take Rinvoq along with a second JAK inhibitor or tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blocker.4

Allergic reactions and other risks

Allergic reactions, including rash, trouble breathing, and swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat can be life-threatening and have occurred with Rinvoq.4

People taking the higher dose of Rinvoq may also have a slightly increased risk of tears of the stomach or intestine (gastrointestinal perforation).4

These are not all the possible side effects of Rinvoq. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when using Rinvoq. You also should call your doctor if you have any health changes that concern you when using Rinvoq.

Things to know about Rinvoq

Rinvoq is approved to treat atopic dermatitis, as well as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.4

Rinvoq should not be taken in combination with:4

  • Other JAK inhibitors
  • Biologics that affect the immune system
  • Drugs that suppress the immune system

What should you do before taking the drug?

Blood tests will be needed before and during treatment of Rinvoq.4

Discuss your current vaccination record with your doctor before taking Rinvoq. You may need to catch up on recommended vaccinations, such as for chickenpox (varicella) and shingles. Some vaccines are not recommended while taking Rinvoq.4

Before beginning treatment for atopic dermatitis, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.

Pregnancy and infants

Rinvoq may harm an unborn or breastfeeding baby. If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before taking Rinvoq.4,5

Risk of tears

Tears of the stomach or intestines have occurred in those taking Rinvoq. If you have had inflammation in parts of your intestines (diverticulitis) or have had ulcers in your gut, tell your doctor. Rinvoq may not be right for you. Belly pain, nausea, and vomiting can be a medical emergency if taking Rinvoq. See your doctor immediately if these symptoms occur.4

Cardiovascular complications

Blood clotting (thrombosis) has occurred in clinical trials of Rinvoq. Thrombosis can happen in any vessel in the body, including the veins and arteries of the heart, lungs, brain, and large vessels in the legs and arms. This can lead to serious, life-threatening complications or death. Watch for signs of blood clotting and seek immediate treatment if any of the following symptoms occur:4,6

  • Swelling, pain, redness, and heat in only 1 leg or arm
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Numbness or weakness on 1 side of your body

For more information, read the full prescribing information of Rinvoq.

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