The Downside of Home Infusion of Biologics

N Giese-Kim et al. Am J Gastroenterol: July 22, 2020 – Volume Publish Ahead of Print – Issue – doi: 10.14309/ajg.0000000000000750. Link to abstract:  Home Infliximab Infusions Are Associated With Suboptimal Outcomes Without Cost Savings in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

In this study, there were 27,396 patients with IBD (1,839 pediatric patients). Overall, 5.7% of patients used home infliximab infusions.


  • Those with home infusions:
    •  more likely to be nonadherent compared with both office-based (22.2% vs 19.8%; P = .044) and hospital-based infusions (22.2% vs 21.2%; P < .001).
    • more likely to discontinue infliximab compared with office-based (44.7% vs 33.7%; P < .001) or hospital-based (44.7% vs 33.4%; P < .001) infusions.
  • On Kaplan-Meier analysis, the probabilities of remaining on infliximab by day 200 of therapy were 64.4%, 74.2%, and 79.3% for home-, hospital-, and office-based infusions, respectively (P < .001)
  • Home infusions did not decrease overall annual care costs compared with office infusions ($49,149 vs $43,466, P < .001)

My take: In my experience, office-based infusions can be provided safely and in a cost-effective manner.  From the authors: “home infliximab infusions for patients with IBD were associated with suboptimal outcomes including higher rates of nonadherence and discontinuation of infliximab. Home infusions did not result in significant cost savings compared with office infusions.”

Related blog posts:

IBD Update -August 2020

S Jansson et al JPGN 2020; 71: 40-5. This retrospective study (1998-2008) showed that pediatric patients with extraintestinal manifestations (EIM) had more severe IBD course than patients with IBD without an EIM.  EIM often had a temporal relationship with a relapse of IBD as well. Of 333 patients, 14 had an EIM at diagnosis and 47 had an EIM develop during followup.

PA Olivera, JS Lasa et al. Gastroenterol 2020; 158: 1554-73. This systematic review and meta-analysis ultimately included 82 studies with 66,159 patients (including those with IBD and other immune-mediated diseases) exposed to a JAK inhibitor; two-thirds of studies were randomized controlled trials.  Key findings:

  • Incidence rates of serious infections, herpes zoster infection, malignancy, and major cardiovascular events were 2.81, 2.67, 0.89, and 0.48 per 100 person year respectively. After meta-analysis, the authors conclude that there is an increased risk of herpes zoster (RR 1.57), but all other adverse events were not increased among patients treated with JAK inhibitors
  • Mortality was not increased in those receiving JAK inhibitors compared to placebo

Loebenstein, JD Schulberg. Gastroenterol 2020; 158: 2069-71.  This case report describes a successful alternative anti-TNF rechallenge after infliximab induced Lupus in Crohn’s disease.  The authors note that in a previous study, 14 of 20 IBD patents with drug-induced lupus secondary to an anti-TNF agent were rechallenged with an alternative anti-TNF agent and 13/14 tolerated rechallenge without recurrent lupus (Inflamm Bowel Dise 2013; 19: 2778-86).

These images show active disease prior to intervention. The article provides f/u images showing endoscopic remission after re-starting a different anti-TNF agent.

More Iron Infusions, Less Blood Transfusions in Kids with Inflammatory Bowel Disease; COVID-19 Transmission in Children

Briefly noted: AE Jacobson-Kelly et al. J Pediatr 2020; 222: 141-5. In this retrospective multicenter cohort study (2012-2018), the authors used the Pediatric Health Information System administrative database (n= 8007 with 28 260 admissions, <21 yrs of age). Key findings:

  • Anemia was documented in 29.8% of admissions.  IV iron was given in 6.3% of admissions and blood transfusions in 7.4%
  • A steady increase in the proportion of IBD admissions received IV iron, from 3.5% in 2012 to 10.4% in 2018 ( P < .0001), and the proportion of admissions with red cell transfusions decreased over time from 9.4% to 4.4% ( P < .0001).

Related blog posts:


Adjustment of azathioprine dose in NUDT15 intermediate metabolizers, COVID-19 in Georgia & COVID-19 Phase 1 Vaccine Study

LA Jackson et al. NEJM 2020; DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2022483. Link:  An mRNA Vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 — Preliminary Report  The mRNA-1273 vaccine induced anti–SARS-CoV-2 immune responses in all participants (n=45), and no trial-limiting safety concerns were identified.


COVID-19 in Georgia (Data from 7/13/20):

B Kang et al. AP&T 2020; Thanks to Ben Gold for this reference. Full text: Adjustment of azathioprine dose should be based on a lower 6‐TGN target level to avoid leucopenia in NUDT15 intermediate metabolizers

Background: “In addition to TPMT polymorphisms, a recent genome‐wide association study reported that a missense variant of nudix hydrolase 15 (NUDT15 ), which encodes a novel thiopurine‐metabolizing enzyme, was strongly associated with thiopurine‐induced leucopenia especially in Asians”

Key findings:

  • Among the 167 pediatric patients included, leucopenia was observed in 16% (19/119), 44% (20/45) and 100% (3/3) of the NUDT15 normal, intermediate and poor metabolizers respectively ( < 0.001)
  • There was a positive association between 6‐TGN levels and leucopenia among the NUDT15 intermediate/TPMT normal metabolizers
  • In order to reduce the development of thiopurine‐induced leucopenia (<15%) in NUDT15 intermediate metabolizers, adjustment of azathioprine doses should be based on a lower 6‐TGN target level (<167.1 pmol/8 × 108 RBC)

Limitations: single-center, retrospective study and possible selection bias

My take: While 6-TGN levels between 235-400 are typically considered therapeutic, individuals with intermediate metabolism are at increased risk for leukopenia and may respond at lower levels.  This study indicates that careful dosing and close monitoring is needed for NUDT15 intermediate metabolizers

Related blog posts:

Disclaimer: This blog, gutsandgrowth, assumes no responsibility for any use or operation of any method, product, instruction, concept or idea contained in the material herein or for any injury or damage to persons or property (whether products liability, negligence or otherwise) resulting from such use or operation. These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the gutsandgrowth blog cautions that independent verification should be made of diagnosis and drug dosages. The reader is solely responsible for the conduct of any suggested test or procedure.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition

What Our Office Is Recommending: School and Pediatric IBD Patients

We are getting a lot of calls from families trying to figure out what they should be doing for their children with inflammatory bowel disease in regards to school attendance.  Here is what our ICN team has developed:

School guidance during Covid pandemic:

With the flood of information in the lay and scientific media, GI Care for Kids wanted to assure that our patients and families who had children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, had some guidance in making important decisions about beginning the 2020-2021 school year.  Currently, research shows that just having IBD, DOES NOT put a person more at risk for acquiring (i.e. catching) coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.  In addition, research suggests that biologics (e.g. Remicade, Humira) DO NOT seem to increase the risk for more severe Covid related illnesses.

However, steroids, thiopurines (e.g. 6-MP; azathioprine, immuran) and prograf DO appear to have a larger effect on increasing risk for more severe coronavirus infection and COVID-19 disease.  Additional research is being carried out with oldest patients (e.g. > 65 years of age) who appear to be at increased risk for infection and COVID-related disease, and, other co-morbid conditions (e.g. obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease) being at highest risk for COVID-19 disease as well.

All patients should practice good hand hygiene, wear masks at all times outside of the house, and observe social distancing.  If your family does not feel that return to a traditional school building is in your child’s best interest, please let us know, and we will help make sure we support you from a medical standpoint. 

For further information on the status of coronavirus in people with IBD world-wide, young or old, please go to:

Additional information about the status of COVID-19 can be found at the following websites:

Also, this:

Facebook link (1:22 min): This is what happens when a Special Effects guy stays at home with his son during lockdown

Disclaimer: This blog, gutsandgrowth, assumes no responsibility for any use or operation of any method, product, instruction, concept or idea contained in the material herein or for any injury or damage to persons or property (whether products liability, negligence or otherwise) resulting from such use or operation. These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the gutsandgrowth blog cautions that independent verification should be made of diagnosis and drug dosages. The reader is solely responsible for the conduct of any suggested test or procedure.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition

Emerging IBD Treatment: Selective Jak Inhibitor, Upadacitinib,

Two recent large studies examined the use of Upadacitinib, an oral JAK1 inhibitor, for Crohn’s disease and for Ulcerative Colitis.

The first study, “CELEST,” (n=220) is the “first to evaluate the efficacy, safety, pharmacokinetics, and dose-response of upadacitinib immediate-release formulation in patients with moderate to severe CD and refractory to TNF antagonist therapy using PRO-based clinical and endoscopic endpoints… Nearly half of the patients enrolled in CELEST (44% [96/220]) were taking oral corticosteroids at baseline and underwent a mandatory taper starting at week 2.” The key findings are noted in the graphical abstract (below). A couple of additional points:

  • During the induction period, the 24-mg twice-daily dose exhibited the most consistent association with meaningful improvements for multiple clinical and endoscopic endpoints at week 12 or 16
  • Clinical remission was achieved by 13% of patients receiving 3 mg upadacitinib, 27% of patients receiving 6 mg upadacitinib (P < .1 vs placebo), 11% of patients receiving 12 mg upadacitinib, and 22% of patients receiving 24 mg upadacitinib
    twice daily, and by 14% of patients receiving 24 mg upadacitinib once daily, vs 11% of patients receiving placebo.
  • Endoscopic remission was achieved by 10% (in 3 mg group) (P < .1 vs placebo), 8% (in 6 mg and 12 mg groups) (P < .1 vs placebo), 22% (in 24 mg BID group) (P < .01 vs placebo), and 14% (in 24 mg QD group) (P < .05 vs placebo) of patients receiving upadacitinib, respectively, vs none of the patients receiving placebo
  • Upadacitinib was also associated with improvements in quality of life, based on IBDQ, observed as early as week 8
  • AEs reported in this study were consistent with those previously observed in clinical trials with JAK inhibitors. Two patients had myocardial infarction events and 1 patient had a mesenteric vein thrombosis.
  • Limitations: sample size, lack of placebo control during maintenance

The second study, “U-ACHIEVE,” for ulcerative colitis (n=250) notes that in cellular assays upadacitinib is up to 60-fold selective for JAK1 over JAK2 and >100-fold selective over JAK3.  The study incorporated a new definition for the primary endpoint of clinical remission using the adapted Mayo score with a more stringent criterion than previous studies. A consistent dose-response relationship with upadacitinib for this primary endpoint was observed. Other points:

  • Upadacitinib was more effective than placebo for inducing remission in patients with moderately to severely active ulcerative colitis
  • The onset of action was rapid, as shown by improvement in the partial
    Mayo score at week 2
  • Endoscopic improvement at week 8, defined as endoscopic subscore of 1, was achieved in 14.9%, 30.6%, 26.9%, and 35.7% of patients receiving upadacitinib 7.5 mg, 15 mg, 30 mg, or 45 mg, respectively, compared with 2.2% receiving placebo (P ¼ .033, P < .001, P < .001, and P < .001 compared with placebo, respectively)
  • Histologic improvement was demonstrated in all treatment arms
  • The types of AEs reported in this study were similar to those previously observed in clinical trials with JAK inhibitors. In the 45 mg daily arm, one patient developed herpes zoster and one participant developed deep venous thrombosis/pulmonary embolism (26 days after discontinuation of study medication)

My take: Upadacitinib looks quite promising for ulcerative colitis and is likely to be helpful in a smaller subset of patients with Crohn’s disease.  HIgher doses appear to be more effective but are likely to be associated with higher rates of adverse events. Further studies, including pediatric trials, are needed.


Ustekinumab Over Vedolizumab as 2nd Line Agent for Crohn’s Disease

A recent study: Ustekinumab is associated with superior effectiveness
outcomes compared to vedolizumab in Crohn’s disease patients with prior failure to anti-TNF treatment. VBC Biemans et al. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2020; 52: 123-134.  Thanks to Ben Gold for this reference.

Methods: Crohn´s disease patients, who failed anti-TNF treatment and started
vedolizumab or ustekinumab in standard care as second-line biological, were
identified in the observational prospective Dutch Initiative on Crohn and
Colitis Registry.  128 vedolizumab- and 85 ustekinumab-treated patients fulfilled
the inclusion criteria. Median age in the cohorts were 37 and 39 respectively.

Key findings (at 52 weeks):

  • After adjusting for confounders, ustekinumab-treated patients were more likely to achieve corticosteroid-free clinical remission (odds ratio [OR]: 2.58, 95% CI: 1.36-4.90, P = 0.004), biochemical remission (OR: 2.34, 95% CI: 1.10-4.96, P = 0.027), and combined corticosteroid-free clinical and biochemical remission (OR: 2.74, 95% CI: 1.23-6.09, P = 0.014).
  • Safety outcomes (infections: OR: 1.26, 95% CI: 0.63-2.54, P = 0.517; adverse events: OR: 1.33, 95% CI: 0.62-2.81, P = 0.464; hospitalisations: OR: 0.67, 95% CI: 0.32-1.39, P = 0.282) were comparable between the two groups

My take: This study indicates that ustekinumab is likely a more effective 2nd line agent for Crohn’s disease.

Related blog posts:

IBD Update -July 2020

X Roblin et al. Gut 2020; DOI: 10.1136/gutjnl-2019-319758 Addition of azathioprine to the switch of anti-TNF in patients with IBD in clinical relapse with undetectable anti-TNF trough levels and antidrug antibodies: a prospective randomised trial. Key Findings:

  • Rates of clinical failure and occurrence of unfavourable pharmacokinetics were higher in monotherapy compared with combination therapy
  • At 24 months, survival rates without clinical failure and without appearance of unfavourable pharmacokinetics were respectively 22% versus 77% and 22% versus 78% (p<0.001 for both) in monotherapy versus combination therapy

RC Ungaro et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 1152-60.  The authors retrospectively analyzed 3178 patients with Crohn’s disease and found that stopping mesalamine therapy in individuals who were starting biologic therapy did NOT increase their risk of adverse clinical events.  They caution that their findings should be validated in a prospective study.

J Wang et al. AP&T. Full Text: Risk factors and treatment outcomes of peristomal pyoderma gangrenosum in patients with inflammatory bowel disease Key finding: “Complete resolution with topical corticosteroids and calcineurin inhibitors alone were low (14% and 13% respectively). Higher rates of complete resolution were reported with anti‐tumour necrosis factor (TNF) agents (63%) and surgical interventions (80%).”

B Verstockt et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 1142-51. The authors found that expression of 4 genes in colon tissue could be used to predict which patients will enter endoscopic remission with vedolizumab therapy.  Given the increasing number of expensive therapies for IBD, the ability to predict likely success with treatment rather than selecting empirically would be a huge advance.

ST Leach et al. JPGN 2020; 70: 580-5. The authors found that fecal calprotectin was overall the best fecal biomarker for pediatric Crohn’s disease (=156 patients); however, FA12  (aka S100A12) at 5 mcg/g predicted mucosal healing with greater specificity (87% vs 70%) –though this is related in part to the cut-off values. For calprotectin to have greater specificity (>90%), a cut-off of <100 mcg/g lowered the sensitivity to 63%. FA12 also performs better in younger children as calprotectin levels are higher in this age group in healthy children.

How Very Early Onset-Inflammatory Bowel Disease is Different, Plus One

A recent retrospective study (JR Kelsen et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 909-18) compares children diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease at different age points and their outcomes.  During a 9 year study span (2008-16), there were 229 subjects diagnosed as very-early onset (<6 years, VEO), 221 diagnosed as intermediate onset (6-10 years), and 521 diagnosed as older onset (> 10 years)

Key findings:

  • VEO-IBD patients were significantly more likely to have had a diverting ileostomy and colectomy than the older patients.  Diverting ileostomy rates: 12.2%, 4.1%, and 1.2% respectively.  Colectomy rates: 7.4%, 4.1%, and 1.7% respectively.
  • Ileocecal resections were significantly higher in the older-onset IBD population. In the older group, these resections were noted in 64/521 (12.2%) compared to 1/229 (0.4%) in the VEO group and 10/221 (4.5%) in the intermediate group.
  • VEO-IBD patients had higher medication failure rates at 1 year into treatment and were more frequently readmitted to the hospital. For infliximab (IFX), failure rates were 62.4% for VEO subjects compared to 14.6% for older-onset subjects.  For adalimumab, the respective rates were 53.2% vs. 7.2%.
  • Targeted therapy was successfully used almost exclusively in the VEO-IBD population

My take: Children with VEO-IBD have a more severe disease course than older children.  Since monogenetic disorders occur in ~8% of the VEO population, targeted therapies are more likely; however; ~2% of older children also have a monogenetic disorder and as such, targeted therapy could be important in this group as well.

Related review article: J Ouahed et al. Very Early Onset Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Clinical Approach With a Focus on the Role of Genetics and Underlying Immune Deficiencies. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 820-842.  This is a useful review.  A couple of key points:

  • “There are no quality studies assessing the use of nutritional approaches in VEO-IBD”
  • Stem Cell Transplantation NOT efficacious in these disorders (per Table 3): TTC7A, STXBP2, IKBKG (NEMO)

Related blog posts:

Can Microscopic Colitis Lead to Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis?

A recent prospective cohort “ESPRESSO” study (H Khalili et al. Gastroenterol 2020; 158: 1574-83) from 1990-2017 examined the risk of incident inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in subjects with microscopic colitis, n=13,957 (& each matched with 5 controls). ESPRESSO = Epidemiology Strengthened by histoPathology Reports in Sweden.

Key findings:

  • In the microscopic colitis group, there were 323 incident cases of ulcerative colitis (UC) and 108 cases of Crohn’s disease (CD)
  • Mean times to diagnosis were 3.2 years for UC and 3.3 years for CD
  • Microscopic colitis was associated with an aHR of 12.6 for CD and 17.3 fo rUC
  • The absolute excess risk compared to matched control over a 10-year period were 2.6% for UC and 0.9% for CD

My take: Individuals with microscopic colitis are at increased risk of developing UC and CD.

Related blog post/related article: