If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), your doctor may recommend treatment with Olumiant. It’s a prescription medication used in certain adults to treat moderate to severe RA.
Olumiant is prescribed to adults with RA when other medications called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers haven’t worked well enough.
Olumiant is not recommended for use with certain other medications to treat RA.
For more information about how this drug is used for RA, see the “What is Olumiant used for?” section below.
The active drug in Olumiant is baricitinib. It’s not currently available as a generic.
Olumiant belongs to a group of drugs known as Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors.
It comes as tablets that you swallow.
Read on to learn more about Olumiant’s cost, side effects, uses, and more.
Below are answers to some common questions about Olumiant.
How does Olumiant compare with Xeljanz, Rinvoq, and Humira?
Olumiant, Xeljanz, and Rinvoq come as tablets that you swallow. Humira comes as a solution that’s injected under your skin.
To learn more about how these medications are alike and different, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Is Olumiant taken in 4-mg doses for any uses? If so, does this dose cause side effects?
No, an Olumiant dose of 4 milligrams (mg) is not approved for treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
If you have questions about doses or side effects of Olumiant, see the “What is Olumiant’s dosage?” and “What are Olumiant’s side effects?” sections in this article. You can also talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
How does Olumiant work? Is it a biologic?
Olumiant’s mechanism of action (how it works) is to block a protein called Janus kinase.
Janus kinase acts as a messenger between other proteins and cells in your immune system. Blocking Janus kinase stops messages that cause inflammation in your joints. This reduces pain, swelling, and stiffness in your joints. These are possible symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which Olumiant is used to treat.
Olumiant isn’t a biologic. A biologic is a drug that is made using living cells. Instead, Olumiant is a drug that’s made from chemicals.
Does Olumiant treat atopic dermatitis, alopecia, or lupus?
Olumiant is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA). But it may be prescribed off-label to treat other conditions. (With off-label use, a drug is prescribed for a condition that it isn’t approved to treat.)
In countries other than the United States, Olumiant is approved to treat atopic dermatitis (eczema).
If you have questions about off-label uses for Olumiant, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Will I have weight gain, depression, or tiredness from Olumiant?
Depression, tiredness, and weight gain are all possible symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which Olumiant is used to treat. Your doctor can recommend ways to manage these symptoms.
Is Olumiant used for psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis?
Olumiant is only approved for treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It may be prescribed off-label to treat other conditions, though. (With off-label use, a drug is prescribed for a condition that it isn’t approved to treat.)
If you have questions about off-label uses of Olumiant, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Costs of prescription drugs can vary depending on many factors. These factors include what your insurance plan covers and which pharmacy you use. To find current prices for Olumiant in your area, visit WellRx.com.
If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also visit the Olumiant manufacturer’s website to see if they have support options.
Like most drugs, Olumiant may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of the more common side effects that Olumiant may cause. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.
Keep in mind that side effects of a drug can depend on:
- your age
- other health conditions you have
- other medications you take
Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of Olumiant. They can also suggest ways to help reduce side effects.
Mild side effects
Here’s a short list of some of the mild side effects that Olumiant can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read Olumiant’s prescribing information.
Mild side effects of Olumiant that have been reported include:
- herpes outbreaks, including cold sores and genital herpes, if you have herpes virus in your body
- upper respiratory infections, such as the common cold
Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days to a couple of weeks. But if they become bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects from Olumiant can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from Olumiant, call your doctor right away. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.
Serious side effects of Olumiant that have been reported include:
- low red blood cell level
- high cholesterol
- increased liver enzyme levels, which may be a sign of liver damage
- low level of certain white blood cells
- gastrointestinal perforation (holes in your stomach or intestines)*
- boxed warnings:
- serious infections*
- serious heart-related events*
- increased risk of death*
- allergic reaction*
* For more information about this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.
Side effect focus
Learn more about some of the side effects Olumiant may cause.
Serious infections. Taking Olumiant increases your risk of serious infections. This is because Olumiant works by weakening your immune system. Rarely, these infections can be life threatening and require treatment in a hospital. This includes tuberculosis (TB), for example.
What might help
Call your doctor right away if you have symptoms of an infection while taking Olumiant. These include:
Your doctor will test you for TB and other infections before you start taking Olumiant. You should not start this drug if you have an active infection. If you have an infection, it will need to be treated before it’s safe for you to take Olumiant.
Blood clots. Rarely, taking Olumiant can cause blood clots, such as:
- deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is a blood clot that usually forms in your leg
- pulmonary embolism (PE), which is a blood clot in your lung
What might help
Call your doctor right away or seek medical help if you have symptoms of a blood clot while you’re taking Olumiant. These symptoms include:
- trouble breathing
- pain, tenderness, redness or discoloration, warmth, or swelling in one leg
- sudden chest pain
Cancer doesn’t always cause symptoms. But if you notice any of the following, call your doctor right away:
- changes in your skin, such as new or changing moles, patches, or growths
- skin sores that don’t heal or go away
- swelling in your lymph nodes, such as in your armpit, groin, or neck
- unexplained weight loss
What might help
Be sure to tell your doctor if you’ve ever had cancer before starting Olumiant. They may decide another treatment is safer for your condition.
Serious heart-related events. Recent studies looked at Xeljanz, which is another drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA). These studies showed that the drug increased people’s risk of serious heart-related events, including heart attack and stroke.
This risk hasn’t been reported with Olumiant. But because it works in the same way as Xeljanz, Olumiant could also increase this risk, in theory. Because of this, the FDA has applied a boxed
If you already have risk factors for heart-related events, you may have an increased risk of these if you take Olumiant.
What might help
Talk with your doctor to see if you have risk factors for heart-related events. If you’d like to learn more about this risk with Olumiant therapy, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Increased risk of death. Recent studies with Xeljanz, another drug used to treat RA, showed that the drug increased people’s risk of death. This risk hasn’t been reported with Olumiant. But because the drugs work in the same way, Olumiant could also increase this risk, in theory.
Because of this, the FDA has applied a boxed
What might help
Talk with your doctor if you’d like to learn more about this risk with Olumiant therapy.
Although very rare, taking Olumiant could cause you to have gastrointestinal perforations. These are holes in your stomach or intestines.
You’re also at higher risk if you take certain medications. These include:
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
- a corticosteroid, such as prednisone
- the drug methotrexate (Trexall)
Symptoms of gastrointestinal perforation can include:
- changes in your bowel habits, such as having fewer bowel movements than usual
- nausea and vomiting
- belly pain that doesn’t go away
- swollen belly
What might help
Be sure to tell your doctor about your medical history before you begin taking Olumiant.
This should include whether you have or have had diverticulitis or stomach or intestinal ulcers. You should also tell them about all the medications you take. They can check if any of them increase your risk of gastrointestinal perforation if taken with Olumiant.
Call your doctor right away if you have symptoms of gastrointestinal perforation. This is especially important if you have fever, pain in your stomach that doesn’t go away, or a change in your bowel habits.
Some people may have an allergic reaction to Olumiant. Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:
- skin rash
- flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. They can also include swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing.
Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Olumiant. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.
Your doctor will recommend the dosage of Olumiant that’s right for you. Below are commonly used dosages, but always take the dosage your doctor prescribes.
Form and strengths
Olumiant comes as tablets that you swallow. It’s available in two strengths: 1 milligram (mg) and 2 mg.
For treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you’ll likely take Olumiant once per day.
Questions about Olumiant’s dosage
Below are a few commonly asked questions about taking Olumiant.
- What if I miss a dose of Olumiant? If you miss a dose of Olumiant, try to take it as soon as you remember. But if it’s almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the usual time. Don’t take more than one dose to try and make up for the missed dose.
- Will I need to use Olumiant long term? If you and your doctor agree that Olumiant is working well for your RA, you’ll likely take the drug long term.
- How long does Olumiant take to work? Does it start to work quickly? In studies, some people saw reduction in their RA symptoms as soon as 1 week after starting Olumiant. But it may take several weeks before you begin to notice symptom relief. Talk with your doctor if your symptoms aren’t lessened after taking Olumiant for 12 weeks.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), your doctor may recommend treatment with Olumiant. It’s a prescription medication used in adults to treat moderate to severe RA.
Olumiant is prescribed for RA in adults when other medications called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers haven’t worked well enough.
RA is a chronic (long-term) condition that happens when your immune system attacks your joints by mistake. It’s not understood why this occurs in some people.
RA causes symptoms affecting your joints, such as:
Most commonly, RA affects joints in your hands, feet, and wrists. But it can also affect your ankles, elbows, knees, and shoulders. Left untreated over time, RA can cause your joints to become deformed.
Olumiant works by blocking a protein called Janus kinase. By blocking Janus kinase, Olumiant reduces pain, swelling, and stiffness in your joints.
It’s recommended that you don’t use Olumiant along with certain other medications for RA. These other RA drugs include:
- biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs)
- certain immunosuppressants (drugs that suppress your immune system)
- Janis kinase (JAK) inhibitors other than Olumiant
For examples of these drugs, see “Interactions” in the “What should be considered before taking Olumiant” section just below. For a full list of the RA drugs that you should not take with Olumiant, check out the drug’s prescribing information. You can also ask your doctor or pharmacist.
It’s important to discuss your overall health and medical conditions with your doctor when considering treatment with Olumiant. You should also tell your doctor and pharmacist about any medications you take. They can then check for drug interactions between those medications and Olumiant.
These and other things to consider before taking Olumiant are described below.
Taking medications, vaccines, foods, and other things with a certain drug can affect how the drug works. These effects are called interactions.
Before taking Olumiant, be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter types. Also describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you about any interactions these items may cause with Olumiant.
Interactions with drugs or supplements
Olumiant can interact with several types of drugs. These drugs include:
- biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs), such as:
- adalimumab (Humira)
- rituximab (Rituxan)
- certain immunosuppressants (drugs that suppress your immune system), such as:
- azathioprine (Imuran)
- cyclosporine (Gengraf, Sandimmune)
- Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors other than Olumiant, such as:
- the gout drug probenecid (Probalan)
This list does not contain all types of drugs that may interact with Olumiant. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about these interactions and any others that may occur with use of Olumiant.
You should not get live vaccines while you’re taking Olumiant. Live vaccines contain a weakened, but live version of the virus or bacteria they protect against.
These vaccines don’t usually cause infection in people with a healthy immune system. But Olumiant weakens your immune system, so live vaccines could lead to a serious infection in people taking Olumiant.
Examples of live vaccines include:
- measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
- flu vaccine that’s given as a nasal spray (FluMist)
- yellow fever
Talk with your doctor before getting a vaccine while you’re taking Olumiant. It’s recommended to make sure your vaccinations are up to date before you begin Olumiant therapy.
These are serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about drug effects that may be dangerous.
For more information, see the “What are Olumiant’s side effects?” section above.
Olumiant may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Olumiant. Factors to consider include those in the list below.
- Increased infection risk. Olumiant can cause your immune system to not work as well as usual. If you have other risk factors for infection, you may have a higher risk of infection with Olumiant. This includes diabetes, lung disease (such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)), HIV, or a weakened immune system. Talk with your doctor about ways to reduce this risk. They can also help determine if Olumiant is safe for you to take.
- Active infection. You should not start taking Olumiant if you have an active infection. Olumiant can cause your immune system to not work as well as usual. This could make it harder to treat your infection. Your doctor should treat any current infection you have before you start Olumiant therapy.
- Tuberculosis (TB) or hepatitis B or C. Tell your doctor if you’ve previously had hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or TB. Taking Olumiant could cause these infections to become active again in your body. Your doctor can help determine whether Olumiant is safe for you to take.
- Kidney problems. Your body gets rid of Olumiant through your kidneys. If your kidneys aren’t working properly, Olumiant may build up in your body. This increases your risk of side effects and could cause even more damage to your kidneys. If you have problems with your kidneys, you may be prescribed a lower dose of Olumiant. But only after your doctor determines that your kidneys are healthy enough for this drug. Olumiant should not be used in people with severe kidney problems, though.
- Liver problems. Olumiant can elevate levels of your liver enzymes. This can be a sign of liver damage. If you already have liver problems, you may be at higher risk for this side effect. And Olumiant could make your liver problems worse. Your doctor can help determine whether Olumiant is safe for you to take.
- Low level of red blood cells or white blood cells. Tell your doctor if you have a low level of red blood cells or white blood cells. Treatment with Olumiant can decrease these levels. So you should not start taking Olumiant until your levels return to normal. And you’ll need to have blood tests to monitor your blood cell levels if your doctor prescribes Olumiant to you. If your levels become too low, your doctor may pause or stop your Olumiant therapy.
- Diverticulitis or ulcers in your stomach or intestines. Although it’s not common, Olumiant can cause gastrointestinal perforation (holes in your stomach). People with diverticulitis or stomach or intestinal ulcers who take Olumiant may have a higher risk for this side effect. Your doctor can help determine whether Olumiant is safe for you to take.
- Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Olumiant or any of its ingredients, you should not take Olumiant. Ask your doctor what other medications are better options for you.
Olumiant and alcohol
There’s no known interaction between alcohol and Olumiant.
But alcohol and Olumiant can both cause nausea. So your risk for this side effect may be increased if you drink alcohol while taking this drug.
If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about whether it’s safe for you to consume it during Olumiant therapy.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
It’s not known if it’s safe to take Olumiant while pregnant.
If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor before you take Olumiant. And call your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking this drug.
It’s also not known if Olumiant passes into human breast milk. But because of the risk of possible serious side effects in a breastfed child, you should not breastfeed while taking this drug. Your doctor can recommend safe ways to feed your child.
Your doctor will explain how you should take Olumiant. They’ll also explain how much to take and how often. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
Olumiant comes as tablets that you swallow.
Questions about taking Olumiant
Below are a couple of common questions about taking Olumiant.
- Can Olumiant be chewed, crushed, or split? The manufacturer of Olumiant hasn’t stated whether it’s safe to chew, crush, or split their tablets. If you’re having trouble swallowing Olumiant tablets whole, check out this article or talk with your doctor or pharmacist. This drug may also be taken by dissolving Olumiant tablets in water. There are very specific instructions for this, though. So be sure to speak with your doctor or pharmacist before trying to take Olumiant this way.
- Should I take Olumiant with food? You may take Olumiant with or without food.
Questions for your doctor
You may have questions about Olumiant and your treatment plan. It’s important to discuss all your concerns with your doctor.
Here are a few tips that might help guide your discussion:
- Before your appointment, write down questions such as:
- How will Olumiant affect my body, mood, or lifestyle?
- Bring someone with you to your appointment if doing so will help you feel more comfortable.
- If you don’t understand something related to your condition or treatment, ask your doctor to explain it to you.
Remember, your doctor and other healthcare professionals are there to help you. And they want you to get the best care possible. So don’t be afraid to ask questions or offer feedback on your treatment.
Do not take more Olumiant than your doctor prescribes. Taking more than this can lead to serious side effects.
What to do in case you take too much Olumiant
Call your doctor if you think you’ve taken too much Olumiant. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers or use its online resource. But if you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 (or your local emergency number) or go to the nearest emergency room.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), your doctor may prescribe Olumiant.
Ask your doctor for information about the risks and benefits of taking Olumiant for your condition. Here are a few questions to consider:
- What should I expect when starting treatment with Olumiant?
- How will I know if Olumiant is working for me?
- How long will I need to take Olumiant?
- What lab tests will I need to have done while I’m taking Olumiant? How often will I need to have blood drawn for tests?
You can learn more about treatment options for RA by reading these articles:
- Overview of Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Assessing Your RA Treatment
- 20 Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare-Ups
You can also sign up for Healthline’s RA newsletter.
Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.