Coming Soon to a Pharmacy Near You (part 1)…


Two articles indicate that Vedolizumab will be an important agent for treating Ulcerative Colitis (UC).  The first article, NEJM 2013; 369: 699-710, describes two integrated studies (GEMINI 1 studies) in the use of this agent for induction and then for maintenance therapy of UC.

Background: Vedolizumab is a gut-selective blocker of lymphocyte trafficking (see previous post: Vedolizumab -another new IBD treatment | gutsandgrowth).  It is similar to natalizumab which was approved in 2008 for Crohn’s disease.  In phase 3 trials, natalizumab was demonstrated a response in 48% of patients with moderate-to-severe disease, but its large-scale use has been precluded by the potential for reactivation of the John Cunningham (JC) virus and progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML).

Study design: this study was a phase 3, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study conducted at 211 medical centers in 34 countries from 2008-2012.  At baseline some of the assessments included blood tests, stool for enteric pathogens, chest radiography, stool calprotectin, QuantiFERON-TB Gold assay and sigmoidoscopy.  Intravenous vedolizumab was administered at a dose of 300 mg or placebo at days 1 and 15 during induction; also patients were stratified for glucocorticosteroids, use of immunosuppressives and prior use of TNF antagonists.  In total, 746 patients received vedolizumab and 149 received placebo.

Some of the baseline patient characteristics:

  • Mean age: 40.3 yrs
  • Median prednisone dose: 20 mg
  • Average fecal calprotectin: 899 mcg/gr.
  • Site of disease: 37% pancolitis, 13% rectum/sigmoid only, 37.9% left-sided disease, 12.2% disease proximal to splenic flexure.
  • Prior anti-TNF therapy: 48.2%


  • Induction: at week 6, 47.1% of vedolizumab and 25.5% of placebo-treated patients had a clinical response
  • Maintenance: at week 52, of patients randomly assigned to continue receiving vedolizumab, 44.8% every 4 weeks, 41.8% every 8 weeks were in clinical remission compared with 15.9% receiving placebo
  • Glucocorticoid-free remission at 52 weeks in 45.2% of patients receiving vedolizumab every 4 weeks, 31.4% receiving every 8 week treatment, and 13.9% of placebo-treated patients.
  • Figure 1 details important changes in Partial Mayo score, IBDQ score, Fecal calprotectin, and prednisone dose changes.  With regard to fecal calprotectin, at week 6 the median calprotectin level had dropped approximately 70%.  Smaller decreases were noted in patients continuing vedolizumab at week 52.
  • Safety: “no important differences” according to the authors between vedolizumab and placebo.  Specifically, there were no cases of PML; however, routine JC virus testing was not performed in this study.  Infusion reactions were seen in three cases (two with detectable antibody). a mild increase in nasopharyngitis was noted.
  • Cancer: 1.1% of placebo-treated patients developed a malignancy (1 colon cancer, 1 transitional-cell carcinoma, 1 squamous-cell carcinomas of skin) and 0.2% of vedolizumab (1 colon cancer)
  • Drug levels: mean vedolizumab concentrations at every 4 week dosing: 38.3 mcg/mL and at every 8 week dosing: 11.2 mcg/mL
  • Antibodies: 3.7% had samples that were positive for anti-vedolizumab antibodies at any time.  1% developed persistent antibody positivity.

Bottom-line: This large study shows that vedolizumab is effective in a large number of patients with UC, many who were refractory to other treatments, including anti-TNF agents.

Related blog posts:

3 thoughts on “Coming Soon to a Pharmacy Near You (part 1)…

  1. Pingback: What you might not know about anti-TNF monitoring… | gutsandgrowth

  2. Pingback: NASPGHAN Postgraduate Course 2014 -Intestinal Inflammation | gutsandgrowth

  3. Pingback: Early Look At Entyvio (Vedolizumab) in Pediatrics | gutsandgrowth

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