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The Link Between Xeljanz and Liver Damage
Symptoms & Treatment

Recent studies have found that the rheumatoid arthritis drug Xeljanz (generic: tofacitinib) can increase the risk of liver cancer by altering the liver’s enzyme levels. However, the Xeljanz warning label continues to downplay these risks.
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If you or a loved one developed a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism, blood clot or other major side effects after using Xeljanz for rheumatoid arthritis, you should contact our personal injury attorneys immediately for a free case review. Our attorneys are actively investigating lawsuits in all 50 states.

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Why is Xeljanz Hard on the Liver?

Pre-approval clinical trials for Xeljanz conducted by Pfizer determined that patients who used the drug were more likely to have elevated levels of serum enzymes and other chemicals, including:

  • Alanine transaminase (ALT)
  • Aspartate transaminase (AST)
  • Bilirubin

These serum enzymes are indicators of liver health, and altered levels of these chemicals are signs that the liver is being strained, damaged, or compromised.

Related Article: Xeljanz Lawsuit Update

Xeljanz Liver Damage Study

One multiple comparison tests conducted on Xeljanz analyzed 25 different studies that looked at rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and psoriasis patients who took Xeljanz to treat their condition.

The researchers compared the liver function and enzyme levels of patients using Xeljanz to a placebo group who did not take the drug.

Findings indicated that the participants who took Xeljanz were more likely to have elevated liver enzymes compared to those in the placebo group. In certain instances, these levels were more than 3 times the upper limit of normal (ULN):

Group Taking Xeljanz (8,115) Group on Placebo (1,841)
ALT Above the ULN 20.9% 15.7%
ALT Three Times Above the ULN 1.2% 0.8%
AST Above the ULN 15.0% 9.6%
AST Three Times Above the ULN 0.6% 0.5%
Total Bilirubin Above the ULN 3.3% 2.3%

Related Article: Xeljanz Attorney Info

Liver Damage Symptoms

In its early stages, liver disease doesn’t always cause identifiable symptoms. However, when they do occur, they may include:

  • Skin and eyes that appear yellowish (jaundice)
  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Swelling in the legs and ankles
  • Itchy skin
  • Dark urine color
  • Pale stool color
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tendency to bruise easily


Certain minor to moderate liver problems can be treated with lifestyle changes, such as quitting Xeljanz, stopping alcohol use, or losing weight, typically as part of a medical program that includes monitoring liver function. Other more severe liver problems may require prescription medications or surgical intervention.

Can You Feel Liver Damage?

Liver pain manifests in different ways for different people; however, a common symptom is a dull throbbing. For some people, it occurs as a sharp, stabbing pain. For others, the pain migrates to other nearby parts of the body, such as the right shoulder blade or back.

What Foods are Good for Liver Repair?

The liver is part of the body’s natural detoxification system which filters out toxins. Foods that can help repair the liver include berries, cruciferous vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, and fatty fish. Coffee and green tea contain antioxidants that are beneficial for liver health.

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The Pharmaceutical Litigation Group at Schmidt & Clark, LLP law firm is an experienced team of trial attorneys that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new class action lawsuits against Xeljanz in all 50 states.

Free Lawsuit Evaluation: Again, if you were harmed after taking Xeljanz to treat rheumatoid arthritis, you should contact our attorneys immediately. Xeljanz patients may be entitled to a settlement for medical expenses by filing a class action lawsuit and our Attorneys can help.

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