Safety Profile of Upadacitinib up to 3 Years in Psoriatic Arthritis: An Integrated Analysis of Two Pivotal Phase 3 Trials

Rheumatol Ther. 2022 Apr;9(2):521-539. doi: 10.1007/s40744-021-00410-z. Epub 2021 Dec 30.


Introduction: This integrated analysis describes the safety profile of upadacitinib, an oral Janus kinase inhibitor, at 15 and 30 mg once daily for up to 3 years of exposure in patients with active psoriatic arthritis (PsA) who had a prior inadequate response or intolerance to ≥ 1 non-biologic or biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drug.

Methods: Safety data were pooled and analyzed from two randomized, placebo-controlled phase 3 trials. Both trials evaluated upadacitinib 15 mg and 30 mg once daily, and one trial also evaluated adalimumab 40 mg every other week. Treatment-emergent adverse events (TEAEs) and laboratory data were summarized for four groups: pooled placebo, pooled upadacitinib 15 mg, pooled upadacitinib 30 mg, and adalimumab. TEAEs were reported as exposure-adjusted event rates (events per 100 patient-years [E/100 PY]) up to a data cut-off of June 29, 2020.

Results: A total of 2257 patients received ≥ 1 dose of upadacitinib 15 mg (N = 907) or 30 mg (N = 921) for 2504.6 PY of exposure or adalimumab (N = 429) for 549.7 PY of exposure. Upper respiratory tract infection, nasopharyngitis, and increased creatine phosphokinase (CPK) were the most common TEAEs with upadacitinib. Rates of malignancies, adjudicated major adverse cardiovascular events (MACEs) and venous thromboembolic events (VTEs), and deaths were similar across treatment groups. Rates of herpes zoster (HZ) and opportunistic infections (OI; excluding tuberculosis, HZ, and oral candidiasis) were higher with upadacitinib versus adalimumab. Serious infection, anemia, and CPK elevations were most frequent with upadacitinib 30 mg. Potentially clinically significant laboratory abnormalities were uncommon.

Conclusions: Upadacitinib 15 mg and adalimumab had similar safety profiles with the exception of HZ and OIs, consistent with what was observed in rheumatoid arthritis. Rates of malignancies, MACEs, VTEs, and deaths were comparable among patients receiving upadacitinib and adalimumab. No new safety risks emerged with longer-term exposure to upadacitinib.

Trial registration numbers: SELECT-PsA 1: NCT03104400; SELECT-PsA 2: NCT03104374.

Keywords: Adalimumab; JAK inhibitor; Psoriatic arthritis; SELECT-PsA 1; SELECT-PsA 2; Safety; Upadacitinib.

Plain language summary

Psoriatic arthritis is a disease that causes inflammation of the skin and joints. Upadacitinib and adalimumab are medicines that can be used to treat this condition. This analysis combined safety data from two studies of adults with psoriatic arthritis who took upadacitinib, adalimumab, or placebo (no medicine) for up to 3 years. The most common side effects of treatment with upadacitinib were infection and inflammation of the nose and throat and higher amounts of a protein in the blood called creatinine phosphokinase. The total number of cancer cases, heart (cardiovascular) problems, blood clots (embolisms), and deaths were similar across treatment groups, including the placebo (no medicine) group. However, more patients who took upadacitinib than adalimumab or placebo (no medicine) had a painful rash that causes blisters known as herpes zoster (shingles) and infections usually seen in people with a weakened immune system. Most patients had normal blood test results and continued their treatment. Overall, upadacitinib was well tolerated for up to 3 years in patients with psoriatic arthritis. These results agree with what has been found in studies of upadacitinib in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Safety data of upadacitinib use over a longer time will be reported later.

Associated data