What do they do?

Medical treatment for Sjögren’s syndrome consists mainly of drugs to relieve dryness of the mucous membranes that results in gritty eyes and a parched mouth.

How do they work?

Medications for Sjögren’s syndrome work in different ways to relieve dry eyes and mouth.  Both cevimelene (Evoxac) and pilocarpine (Salagen) stimulate saliva production. Numoisyn liquid and Numoisyn lozenges lubricate the mouth. Cyclosporine eye drops (Restasis) suppress the immune system’s attack on the tear glands, and hydroxypropyl cellulose pellets (Lacrisert) dissolve in the eye to provide moisture and lubrication.

Who are they for?

These medications are prescribed for people with Sjögren’s syndrome whose dry eyes or mouth are not alleviated by simpler methods such as sipping water throughout the day, using a humidifier, sucking on hard candies or using artificial tear or saliva products.  For people with severe dry eyes, a surgical procedure to block the tear ducts, call punctual occlusion, is another treatment option.

What’s important to know about the drug class?

The drugs approved and/or commonly used for Sjögren’s syndrome treat dry eyes and mouth. Drugs for dry eyes come are in the form of drops placed directly in the eyes. Medications for dry mouth are taken orally; however, two of them -- cevimeline (Evoxac) and pilocarpine (Salagen) -- work systemically to increase saliva production and may have some beneficial effects for dry eyes as well.

Many people with Sjögren’s also experience dryness of other tissues -- including the skin, nasal passages and vaginal tissues – which may be eased with readily available products such skin creams and lotions, vaginal lubricants, nasal saline sprays and mineral oil or ear wax remover.

Some people also experience more serious systemic effects of Sjögren’s. Treatment for these may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) for joint pain and inflammation, and corticosteroids such as prednisone and/or disease-modifying drugs such as methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall), azathioprine (Imuran), mycophenolate mofetil (Cellcept) or cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) for lung or kidney problems.

See all Sjögren’s drugs.