Baricitinib is one of those drugs that have made lots of fuss recently, due to the fact that doctors discovered that they can be repurposed and applied to treat the new coronavirus disease. Still, in the first place, it is a medication for treating rheumatoid arthritis — a severe autoimmune condition that affects about 4% of women and about 2% of men and leads to the loss of an ability to perform their duties at work (in about 60% of cases).

For your convenience, we are going to tell you about this product in a “question and answer” format.

How to know if this medicine suits you?

In most cases, rheumatoid arthritis starts from warmth, tenderness, stiffness, redness, swelling, and/or pains in fingers or toes. Then, in a few days (or maybe weeks), those symptoms disappear, but the inflammation spreads to bigger joints like knees or elbows and manifests itself again in some time. That is accompanied by damage to the joints affected within 3–6 months after the start of the disease, which may lead to disabilities.

Hence, if you feel any of the symptoms mentioned in more than one joint, that is a reason to see your doctor.

How does this treatment act?

Rheumatoid arthritis is the condition when the organism perceives its own tissues as foreign ones (like viruses or bacteria) and, consequently, attacks them with antibodies. That is followed by inflammatory processes, which damage or destroy joints. Baricitinib is targeted upon inhibiting the enzymes, which participate in these processes. As a result, the inflammation is suppressed and the symptoms of the disease are relieved.

!!! Most patients feel significant improvement in their state in about 12 weeks after they start the course.

When isn’t it prescribed?

  • as the first antirheumatic medications;
  • to pregnant and breastfeeding women;
  • a patient has an active infection or has faced severe infections before;
  • heart disorders;
  • blood hypertension;
  • blood clots or thrombosis;
  • low red or white blood cells levels;
  • a high cholesterol level;
  • oncology;
  • low red or white blood cells
  • lungs diseases;
  • liver or kidney problems;
  • herpes zoster.

What is the effective dosage?

It is calculated depending on the patient’s state of health and age. In most cases, adults are prescribed 2mg per day, which must be administered as a single dose. These pills can be taken either on an empty stomach or with a meal. But if a patient is over 75 or if he faced repeated infections in the past, the dosage is usually reduced.

As a rule, this drug is prescribed on a long-term or constant basis. You must not increase the dose or abandon the course without your doctor’s recommendation. Keep in mind that this medication needs some time to reach its full therapeutic potential. So, you will usually have to wait for a couple of months to feel the effect.

Meanwhile, if your symptoms do not relieve in 6 months, inform your doctor about it. In such a situation, he may decide to change the drug for you.

Does it work for Covid-19?

Baricitinib is one of the few medications, which are officially allowed in the USA for emergency use in patients with the infection mentioned. Yet, there are certain limitations — it can be prescribed for the moderate and severe stage only when one needs oxygen support, mechanical ventilation, or ECMO.

In such cases, it is applied in the daily dosage of 4mg and combined with Remdesevir (the antiviral formula). The course lasts 14 days or until recovery (if it is reached earlier).

Besides, it may be prescribed to children within clinical investigations:

  • 2 years — up to 9 years — 2mg per day;
  • 9 years and above — 4mg per day.

The duration of the therapy is identical — 14 days.

Now, you probably want to learn more about how it acts against this coronavirus. First, it suppresses the inflammatory response to the virus entering the organism. As you have definitely heard, excessive inflammation (it is called a cytokine storm) is one of the key problems patients with severe Covid face. Besides, certain studies show that this medication may have a direct antiviral effect, i.e. it may prevent the virus from penetrating the cells of a patient’s organism.

As a result, it provides the following therapeutic benefits:

  • speeding up the recovery;
  • reducing a need for mechanical ventilation;
  • decreasing the risk of death (by about 13%);
  • no increase in the risk of serious side effects.

What are the side effects?

The most common adverse reactions are:

  • nausea;
  • the growth of the risk of catching varied infections, namely, respiratory ones, like a cold, herpes simplex, herpes zoster, and others.

How to minimize the risks?

  1. Administer the medication exactly as prescribed.
  2. Do not mix it with any other drugs or herbal supplements without discussing that with your doctor.
  3. Inform your doctor about all the accompanying health problems before starting the therapy.
  4. Warn your healthcare provider about any side effects appearing (the list above is not complete).
  5. As it was mentioned, this medication suppresses inflammatory reactions, consequently, it is easier for viruses and other microorganisms to enter the organism and provoke a severe infection. Thus, when using Baricitinib, you must take the following precautions:
  • keeping distance with people who have signs of infectious diseases;
  • wash hands before meals, before and after going to a toilet, after visiting public places;
  • if there is no opportunity to wash hands — apply a sanitizer;
  • brush your teeth at least twice a day;
  • store the food properly;
  • make sure all the meals with fish and meat are well cooked;
  • keep your home clean (a special focus is on the kitchen and bathroom);
  • abandon smoking.

If you suspect that you’ve caught an infection when taking Baricitinib, be sure to contact the healthcare provider without a delay. To protect you from possible complications, the doctor may decide to cancel or adjust your prescription.

What should one avoid when taking this medicine?

  • As this product has a direct impact on the operation of the immune system, any immunization must be discussed with your doctor. Yet, that does not mean that you should refuse it completely.
  • it is generally advisable to take all the vaccines scheduled or needed before starting the course of Baricitinib;
  • live vaccines (like those against measles, tuberculosis, or shingles) are not recommended and are usually replaced with an alternative or rescheduled;
  • pneumococcal and certain flu vaccines are allowed.
  • You must warn your doctor about taking this drug. In some cases, there is a need to take a pause in the therapy.
  • Using other medications. You must ask your doctor before taking any other medications, including OTC products and herbals.
  • There are no direct prohibitions, still, it is advisable to stick to the weekly limit of 14 units.
  • It is strictly recommended to abandon this habit.

Is it safe to use generic Baricitinib instead of brand Barikind?

The only difference is the price. The generic tablets have the same composition and effect as the brand ones, but cost a few times cheaper as their producers do not invest so much finance in research and advertising.

Hence, the answer is unambiguous — you can safely switch to a generic alternative without worrying about any safety risks. It is a perfect way to reduce the cost of treatment.


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