New RA biologic ups shingles risk

A newly FDA-approved JAK inhibitor is associated with “higher than expected” rates of herpes zoster, according to a review of clinical trials.

Researchers looked at the effects of tofacitinib in nearly 4,800 rheumatoid arthritis patients involved in development trials, of whom 240 developed drug-related herpes zoster.

Incidence rates were 4.4 per 100 patient-years in those taking tofacitinib compared with 1.5 for those in phase 3 trials on placebo.

Patients contracting the virus were overwhelmingly women (87%) and rates were also far higher in Asian trials (7.7 per 100 patient-years