Baricitinib

Sounds like ‘BAR-i-SYE-ti-nib’

Baricitinib is used to treat people who are in hospital with COVID-19. Baricitinib is also called Olumiant.

What is baricitinib?

Baricitinib is used to treat people who are in hospital with severe COVID-19 infection and who meet certain criteria for its use. Baricitinib is used to reduce inflammation in your lungs. It can also reduce the effects of an over-activated immune system that can occur in some people. It may reduce the severity of your symptoms, help you get better sooner and reduce your risk of dying. Read about COVID-19 treatment while you are in hospital.

How is baricitinib given?

Baricitinib is available as tablets (2 mg and 4 mg). The usual dose is 1 tablet (4 mg) ONCE DAILY for up to 14 days. Some people may need lower doses. Your doctor will decide what dose is right for you and how long you should take it for. You can take baricitinib with or without food. Swallow the tablet whole with a glass of water. If you have trouble swallowing tablets, your nurse will dissolve the tablets in some water so it’s easier to take.

Tell your doctor

Before you are given baricitinib, tell your doctor:

  • if you have hepatitis B
  • if you have any other conditions – including tuberculosis, diverticulitis, stomach ulcers, diabetes, cancer, or raised blood pressure
  • if you have had previous allergic reactions to any medicine including over-the-counter and complementary medicines, eg, vitamins, minerals, herbal or naturopathic medicines that you are taking or have recently taken.

Pregnancy

If you think you are pregnant or are planning a pregnancy, tell your doctor. At present, we know very little about the effects of baricitinib in pregnancy. If you could become pregnant, you should use effective contraception while being treated with baricitinib and for at least a week after stopping the treatment.

What are the side effects of baricitinib?

Baricitinib can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them.

Common side effects

These are usually mild and go away with time. Tell your doctor if these side effects cause you problems or don’t go away:

  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • headache.
  • cold sores
  • tummy/puku pain.

Rare, serious side effects

Your doctor will watch for these side effects by doing blood tests and monitoring:

  • infections, eg, in your sinuses or throat
  • problems with your liver
  • signs of an allergic reaction.

Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product

References

  1. Use of baricitinib in hospitalised adults with COVID-19 NSW Therapeutic Advisory Group Inc., Australia, 2021
  2. Clinical management of COVID-19 in hospitalised adults - including in pregnancy Ministry of Health, NZ, 2022
  3. Pharmac to fund baricitinib to treat moderate to severe cases of COVID-19 Pharmac, NZ, 2021
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Eamon Duffy, Pharmacist, ADHB, Auckland Last reviewed: 08 Dec 2021