BACKGROUND: Janus kinase inhibitors (JAKi) are new targeted synthetic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) licenced in the UK to treat rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritides. Unlike currently often prescribed biological DMARDs, they target a different part of the inflammatory pathway and are taken orally. The aim of this study was to explore what UK-based rheumatology clinicians and inflammatory arthritis (IA) patients think about the awareness, prescription and use of JAKi; how they compare with biologics; and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected how JAKi are viewed and prescribed.

METHODS: Rheumatology clinicians and IA patients completed online surveys and participated in interviews/focus groups between September 2021 and January 2022. Survey data were analysed descriptively, and interview/focus group data underwent an inductive thematic analysis.

RESULTS: 66.6% of patients had at least some awareness of JAKi, 73.0% from their rheumatology team. Problems getting earlier access to these drugs were raised by some patients, with many being prescribed JAKi after multiple other therapies had failed. 91.5% of clinicians prescribed JAKi in keeping with their local guidelines, with 72.3% prescribing them frequently as a monotherapy. Some clinicians had lingering safety concerns over JAKi use. Despite experiencing side effects and knowing of possible long-term risks, patients felt overall the benefits of JAKi outweighed the risks. 39.3% of patients were 'very satisfied' on JAKi, compared with 25.0% on biologics. Patients on JAKi appreciated their short half-life when it comes to infections, and their convenience as an oral therapy. When JAKi were discontinued in patients, it was predominantly due to inefficacy and non-cardiovascular adverse events. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in increased prescription of JAKi as an alternative to injections and infusions, primarily to avoid potentially exposing patients to the coronavirus. Some patients believed their JAKi may confer some protection against developing severe COVID-19.

CONCLUSION: JAKi are an effective treatment option for IA and are liked by patients. The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have impacted their prescription favourably. However, clinicians have safety concerns over JAKi use. Any decision to go on a JAKi should be informed and take into account individual patient risk factors, circumstances and preferences.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1
JournalBMC Rheumatology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2024


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