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Peng Thim Fan, MD: The Advantages of Upadacitinib for Ankylosing Spondylitis

While some physicians might initially assume that oral medications like upadacitinib aren't as effective as an injection, but Dr. Fan explains that's not the case.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved upadacitinib (RINVOQ) for the treatment of adults with active ankylosing spondylitis who previously had inadequate response or intolerance to ≥1 tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor. The drug now serves as an option for patients with difficulties achieving treatment response to the chronic musculoskeletal inflammation diseases.

During Pri-Med West 2022, Peng Thim Fan, MD, FACP, Clinical Professor of Rheumatology, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, shared his thoughts on the FDA decision in an interview with HCPLive®.

Fan explained that the small molecules in upadacitinib are what allow the JAK inhibitor to be taken orally, as opposed to subcutaneously. Another advantage the treatment offers is its rapid response rate.

In just a month of treatment with upadacitinib, Fan can determine if a patient is responding to the drug, and in cases where it's not effective, he can promptly shift to another treatment option. While some physicians might initially assume that oral medications aren't as effective as an injection, Fan explained that's not the case.

"It's just the reverse, because the Janus kinase pathway blocks so many different inflammatory molecules, that we call cytokines, that actually they cover a broader range," he said, "and you will see, for example, with the 3 JAK inhibitors we now have in the market that they keep expanding in terms of what particular disease may respond for that reason."