Ruxolitinib (Generic Name)

Other Name: Jakafi® (Other Name)

About This Drug

Ruxolitinib is used for treating myelofibrosis, which is not cancer. It is given orally (by mouth).

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Low blood counts. If your white blood cell count is low, you are at risk for infection. If your platelet count is low, you may have bleeding problems and bruise more easily. If your red blood cell count is low, you may be short of breath and may require a blood transfusion.
  • Swelling of your legs, ankles and feet
  • Headache
  • Increased cholesterol
  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in your liver function. Your doctor will monitor your liver function as needed.
  • Vomiting

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Urinary tract infection. Symptoms may include:
    • Pain or burning when you urinate.
    • Feeling like you have to urinate often, but not much urine comes out when you do.
    • Tender or heavy abdomen
    • Cloudy urine and/or urine smells bad.
    • Pain on one side of your back under your ribs. This is where your kidneys are.
    • Fever, chills, nausea and/or vomiting
  • Effects on the nerves called peripheral neuropathy. You may feel numbness or tingling in your hands and feet. It may be difficult for you to button your clothes, open jars, or walk normally. The effect on the nerves may get worse with additional doses of the drug. These effects get better in some people after the drug is stopped but it may not get better in some people.
  • If you have had shingles (herpes zoster infection) before, it may come back.

Reproductive Concerns

  • Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn child, so effective methods of birth control should be used during your treatment and for at least 3 months following treatment.
  • Genetic counseling is available to you to discuss the effects of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. In addition, a genetic counselor can review the potential risks of problems in the fetus due to this medication if an exposure during pregnancy has occurred.
  • Breast-feeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. For that reason, women are advised to discuss with their doctors the risks and benefits of breast-feeding during treatment with this drug, because it may enter the breast milk and seriously harm a breast-feeding infant.

Treating Side Effects

  • Drink 6 to 8 cups of fluid each day, unless your doctor has told you to restrict your fluid intake. A cup is 8 ounces of fluid. If you vomit or have diarrhea, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medication to help prevent or lessen diarrhea, vomiting, headache and symptoms of a urinary tract infection.
  • Ask your doctor for medication to relieve the symptoms of shingles.
  • Be careful when cooking, walking, and handling sharp objects and hot liquids.

Important Information

  • Ruxolitinib may be administered with or without food.
  • The tablets should be swallowed whole and not crushed or chewed.
  • Avoid grapefruit or grapefruit juice while taking this medication.

Food and Drug Interactions

There are a number of medications that interact with Ruxolitinib. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all medications and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs, and others) that you are currently taking. The safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often unknown. Using these might unexpectedly affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your doctor’s advice.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5°F (38.0°C) or above
  • Chills
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Uncontrolled vomiting that prevents you from eating and/or drinking
  • Diarrhea of four stools or more a day or weakness or lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or burning when you urinate.
  • Feeling like you have to urinate often, but not much urine comes out when you do.
  • Tender or heavy abdomen
  • Cloudy urine and/or urine smells bad.
  • Pain on one side of your back under your ribs. This is where your kidneys are.
  • Symptoms of shingles: burning or shooting pain and tingling or itching, usually on one side of the body or face. The pain can be mild to severe.

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Numbness, tingling, decreased sensation or weakness in fingers, toes, arms, or legs.
  • Difficulty in walking or changes in the way you walk, clumsiness in buttoning clothes, opening jars, or other routine hand activities.
  • Swelling of your legs, ankles and/or feet

New January 2013

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA