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Physician Takeaways from Alopecia Drug Treatment Case Study

Posted by Thea Chassin

October 17, 2014 at 11:00 AM

This is our second in a 2-part series about a relatively new class of immuno-suppressant drugs called Janus kinase inhibitors, which sure have received a lot of media attention lately.

As we summarized last week about Ruxolitinib, here's a sampling of some of the headlines that followed the publication in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology about a 25-year old man who was prescribed Tofacitinib Citrate. That paper is titled: Killing Two Birds With One Stone: Oral Tofacitinib Reverses Alopecia Universalis in a Patient with Plaque Psoriasis, and a recap of it can be seen in this article on YaleNews.

Recent headlines that might have jumped out at you:

    • Tofacitinib Citrate: The Arthritis Drug that Cured Alopecia Universalis
    • Can this Arthritis Drug Cure Baldness?
    • Arthritis Drug May Be Miracle Cure for Rare Hair Loss Disease
    • Bald Man Takes Arthritis Drug and Regrows Hairxeljanz-bottle

We think that our network is well suited to tamp down misinformation and exaggeration (for example, that despite the headlines, these drugs are not cures).

This week we also want to amplify our message with some very concise points by Jeff Donovan, MD, a dermatologist and hair transplant specialist who is board-certified in both the United States and Canada. Dr. Donovan currently has a medical practice in Toronto and is the medical advisor to the Canadian Alopecia Areata Foundation (not related to an American foundation with a similar sounding name).

Dr. Donovan made 5 key points about the use of Tofacitinib Citrate after the publication of the alopecia drug treatment case study by Dr. Brett A. King affiliated with Yale University Medical Center:

  1. Tofacitinib  (brand name Xeljanz) is a relatively new drug approved for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis.
  2. Tofacitinib is an immunosuppressant medication.
  3. Tofactinib is one of many medications that may have helped the man in the study.
  4. Tofacitinib is a treatment not a cure.
  5. Tofacitinib needs to be respected. 

Much conversation about the potential of the prescription medications Ruxolitinib and Tofactinib Citrate was heard in the summer of 2014 due to the nearly back to back media buzz about an ongoing clinical trial at Columbia University and another single-patient case at Yale University School of Medicine.  At this time, the Yale physician who authored that article has initiated the process of recruiting additional patients for an open-label clinical trial with Tofacitinib (brand name Xeljanz, pronounced zel-jans). Dr. Donovan's complete explanation is very well worth a few minutes to read and appears on the CANAAF website here [PDF].

In our prior post about Ruxolitinib, we provided basic information about recent clinical trials underway on alopecia areata patients taking that drug. We refer you this week to the patient safety information from the manufacturer of Xeljanz "What is the most important information I should know about Xeljanz?"

Our goal here at Bald Girls Do Lunch is to keep you informed and ahead of the headlines.  We hope you find this information helpful!

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Topics: alopecia medical articles, research for alopecia treatment