Real-world characteristics, treatment experiences and corticosteroid utilisation of patients treated with tofacitinib for moderate to severe ulcerative colitis

BMC Gastroenterol. 2022 Apr 9;22(1):177. doi: 10.1186/s12876-022-02215-y.


Background: Tofacitinib is an oral, small molecule JAK inhibitor for the treatment of UC. We aimed to describe the real-world treatment experience and corticosteroid utilisation of patients treated with tofacitinib in a US claims database.

Methods: Patients with a UC diagnosis who initiated tofacitinib, vedolizumab or tumour necrosis factor inhibitor (TNFi) treatment between May 2018 and July 2019 were identified from the Optum Research Database. Demographic and clinical characteristics of patients who initiated tofacitinib, vedolizumab or TNFi were described. Oral corticosteroid use prior to and following tofacitinib initiation was evaluated. Tofacitinib adherence (proportion of days covered) and continuation was assessed for 6 months following initiation. Analyses were descriptive and stratified by prior biologic use (naïve, 1 or ≥ 2; minimum of 12 months prior to tofacitinib initiation).

Results: Among patients initiating tofacitinib (N = 225), mean age was 45.6 (SD 16.5) years and 50.2% were female. Of these, 43 (19.1%) patients were biologic-naïve and 182 (80.9%) had prior biologic use (92 [40.9%], 1 prior biologic; 90 [40.0%], ≥ 2 prior biologics). Among patients with 1 prior biologic, 82.6% were previously treated with a TNFi. Among patients with ≥ 2 prior biologics, 54.4% were previously treated with vedolizumab and a TNFi, 16.7% with two TNFi and 28.9% with ≥ 3 prior biologics. In the 6 months prior to tofacitinib initiation, 65.8% of patients had received oral corticosteroids (74.4%, 60.9% and 66.7% for biologic-naïve, 1 and ≥ 2 prior biologics, respectively). The proportion of patients with ongoing oral corticosteroid use 3-6 months after tofacitinib initiation decreased to 13.3% (9.3%, 18.5% and 10.0% for biologic-naïve, 1 and ≥ 2 prior biologics, respectively), and 19.6% of patients discontinued oral corticosteroid use during the 6 months after tofacitinib initiation. Overall, tofacitinib adherence, as determined by the mean proportion of days covered during the 6-month follow-up, was 0.7 (median 0.8). During the 6-month follow-up, 84.9% of patients continued tofacitinib.

Conclusions: Among patients with UC initiating tofacitinib, the majority had prior biologic use. Tofacitinib adherence was high, discontinuation was low and oral corticosteroid utilisation decreased irrespective of prior biologic use. Further research with longer follow-up and a larger sample size is required.

Keywords: Adherence; Oral corticosteroid; Small molecule Janus kinase inhibitor; Tofacitinib; Tumour necrosis factor inhibitor (TNFi); Ulcerative colitis; Vedolizumab.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Biological Products* / therapeutic use
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / chemically induced
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Piperidines / therapeutic use
  • Pyrimidines


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Biological Products
  • Piperidines
  • Pyrimidines
  • tofacitinib