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INTRODUCTION: Biologics were the first targeted therapies for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), having in common high clinical efficacy. Being proteins, they are administered parenterally. The first oral targeted small molecules approved for RA are competitive inhibitors of the Janus kinase (JAK) enzyme family which mediate signalling for a cytokine subset important in RA pathogenesis. Areas covered: Several JAK inhibitors have been developed with differing selectivity for the four JAK enzymes with a view to generating oral, multi-cytokine inhibitors. Here we review the pharmacology and clinical trial data for efficacy and safety of filgotinib, an investigational selective JAK1 inhibitor. We contextualise the contemporary approach to RA management and substantial unmet needs that remain. Expert opinion: The selectivity of filgotinib for JAK1 may have theoretical advantages in terms of limiting toxicity. However, establishing whether this is so before larger numbers of patients are exposed in phase III and beyond in the real word setting, will be difficult. Filgotinib clinical trial data to date has been encouraging with rapid, sustained efficacy with promising safety and tolerability. We are likely to see an expanding choice of approved JAK inhibitors in the clinic but it may not be straightforward to distinguish safety and efficacy differences.

Original publication




Journal article


Expert opin investig drugs

Publication Date





1181 - 1187


Filgotinib, Janus kinase, rheumatoid arthritis, small molecule, treatment, Administration, Oral, Antirheumatic Agents, Arthritis, Rheumatoid, Drug Design, Humans, Janus Kinase 1, Molecular Targeted Therapy, Protein Kinase Inhibitors, Pyridines, Triazoles