The Safety Profile of Upadacitinib in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis in Japan

Drug Saf. 2021 Jun;44(6):711-722. doi: 10.1007/s40264-021-01067-x. Epub 2021 May 27.


Introduction: Upadacitinib is a Janus kinase inhibitor with demonstrated efficacy in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the long-term safety of upadacitinib in patients with active RA from Japan compared with global clinical trial populations.

Methods: Pooled data in patients enrolled from Japan (the 'Japanese population'; SELECT-SUNRISE, SELECT-EARLY, and SELECT-MONOTHERAPY) were compared with that from global (Japan and ex-Japan) upadacitinib clinical trial populations and summarized descriptively.

Results: The Japanese population (mean age 57.0 years; mean RA duration 6.1 years) received upadacitinib 7.5 mg (n = 121), 15 mg (n = 126), and 30 mg (n = 124) once daily, while the global population (mean age 54.8 years; mean RA duration 9.1 years) received upadacitinib 6 mg twice daily/15 mg once daily (n = 2883) and 12 mg twice daily/30 mg once daily (n = 1375). Most patients were female (79.3%). The exposure-adjusted incidence rates (EAIRs) of serious adverse events in the Japanese population were 11.5, 12.2, and 21.2 per 100 patient-years (PY) with upadacitinib 7.5, 15, and 30 mg, respectively. Herpes zoster rates were higher in the Japanese population (7.8, 12.4, and 16.7 per 100 PY with 7.5, 15, and 30 mg, respectively) versus global populations (3.7 and 7.0 per 100 PY with 15 and 30 mg, respectively). Prior herpes zoster was a significant risk factor for herpes zoster.

Conclusions: The safety profile of upadacitinib was generally similar between Japanese and global RA populations, except for higher EAIRs for serious adverse events and infections, including herpes zoster, in the Japanese population.

Trial registration numbers: SELECT-EARLY: NCT02706873; SELECT-NEXT: NCT02675426; SELECT-COMPARE: NCT02629159; SELECT-MONOTHERAPY: NCT02706951; SELECT-BEYOND: NCT02706847; SELECT-SUNRISE: NCT02720523; BALANCE I: NCT01960855; BALANCE II: NCT02066389.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents* / adverse effects
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / drug therapy
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Female
  • Herpes Zoster / epidemiology
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 3-Ring* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 3-Ring
  • upadacitinib

Associated data