ADMIRE Study: Use of Stem Cell Therapy for Complex Perianal Fistulas in Crohn’s Disease

A recent phase 3 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study (J Panes et al. Gastroenterol 2018; 154: 1334-42) examined the use of stem cell therapy for the treatment of complex perianal fistulas in Crohn’s disease (CD).

They used a single local injection of 120 million Cx601, a suspension of allogeneic expanded adipose-derived stem cells, and compared to a placebo injection.  This study comprised 212 patients from 49 centers. The primary endpoint, labelled “combined remission,” was based on absence of draining fistulas and MRI findings.

Key Findings:

  • As noted in Figure 1 (below), combined remission occurred in 51.5% of Cx601-Rx patients compared with 35.6% for placebo at week 24; at week 52, combined remission occurred in 56.3% of Cx601-Rx patients compared with 38.6%

My take: This local therapy improved outcomes for 1 year after a single injection and appears promising for refractory perianal fistulas.  It may help avoid surgery or systemic immunosuppression.

 

Closer Look at Data Then Image Below

“A Guide to Gutsy Living”

A recent article ( David JG, Jofriet A, Seid M, et al. “A Guide to Gutsy Living”: Patient-Driven Development of a Pediatric Ostomy Toolkit. Pediatrics. 2018;141(5): e20172789) describes “A Guide to Gutsy Living”: Patient-Driven Development of a Pediatric Ostomy Toolkit (Full Text)

From ImproveCareNow: Download a free copy of the Ostomy Toolkit

Background:

The education we received about our ostomy surgery was brief and focused only on basic skills regarding caring for an ostomy, including changing and emptying the bag, but did not address concerns we had about living with ostomies as part of our everyday lives. This educational void placed the burden on us as patients to find resources on our own, decide if the information was appropriate, and determine if it was reliable and accurate.

In this article, we describe how we, as patients, harnessed the capacity of a collaborative chronic care network1 and were supported to develop a resource that patients needed.

Methods:

We started a national task force of interested patients and parents who had experiences with ostomies to develop a pediatric ostomy toolkit. The task force was composed entirely of patients and parents and consisted of 7 patients and parents

After a literature review, we asked task force members to identify questions and topics related to living with an ostomy, including questions members had preoperatively, immediately postoperatively, and in the extended time since their surgeries. From this prompt, our group generated a list of topics all patients and parents agreed on based on the shared concerns, insights, or questions our task force members had around ostomy surgery… After the creation of the toolkit, we reached out to clinicians to provide clinical review.

Results:

Our final 19-page, colorful toolkit included topics relating to friends, school, travel, ostomy supplies, clothing, playing sports, using humor to cope, emergency kits, educational issues (eg, 504 plans), “Gastronauts” (Gastronauts are freely available puppets with ostomies), and ostomy medical language…The pediatric ostomy toolkit was posted on the ICN Exchange platform

My take (borrowed from authors): In our patient- and parent-led toolkit project, we demonstrate how patients and families can self-organize and ask clinicians to consult to create needed resources within a network

Resources:

  • The Oley Foundation website is a good link for patients with enteral tubes, ostomies, and central lines. http://oley.org/
  • From ImproveCareNow: Download a free copy of the Ostomy Toolkit

View from Pine Mountain

 

Opiates, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Mortality

A recent retrospective study (NE Burr et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2018; 16: 534-41) with 3517 patient’s with Crohn’s disease (CD) and 5349 with ulcerative colitis (UC) examined the frequency of opioid prescriptions and the relationship to fatal outcomes.

Key findings:

  • Compared to 1990-93, the period of 2010-13 saw a sharp rise in the use of opiods in England: 10% compared to 30%.
  • Prescription of strong opioids (>3 prescriptions per calendar year) was associated with premature mortality: Hazard ratio 2.18 for CD and 3.3 for UC.

This study is in agreement with other data showing increasing use of opiate prescriptions worldwide for chronic noncancer pain (although there has been a drop in the past year).  As with other studies of patients with inflammatory bowel disease, this study shows an association between opioid use and mortality.

My take: Needing an opioid may be a marker for more severe disease. Whether the opioid use directly contributes to mortality remains unclear.

 

113 Recommendations for Crohn’s Disease Management from ACG

Full Text Link: ACG Clinical Guideline: Management of Crohn’s Disease. GR Lichtenstein et al. Am J Gastroenterol 2018; 113:481–517

A few of the recommendations from Table 1:

  • (Insurance companies –please read this one): #1 Fecal calprotectin is a helpful test that should be considered to help differentiate the presence of IBD from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (strong recommendation, moderate level of evidence).
  • #9 Perceived stress, depression, and anxiety, which are common in IBD, are factors that lead to decreased health-related quality of life in patients with
    Crohn’s disease, and lead to lower adherence to provider recommendations. Assessment and management of stress, depression, and anxiety should be
    included as part of the comprehensive care of the Crohn’s disease patient (strong recommendation, very low level of evidence)
  • #24, 25 Anti-TNF agents (infliximab, adalimumab, certolizumab pegol) should be used to treat Crohn’s disease that is resistant to treatment with corticosteroids (strong recommendation, moderate level of evidence). Anti-TNF agents should be given for Crohn’s disease refractory to thiopurines or methotrexate (strong recommendation, moderate level of evidence).
  • #26 Combination therapy of infliximab with immunomodulators (thiopurines) is more effective than treatment with either immunomodulators alone or
    inflximab alone in patients who are naive to those agents (strong recommendation, high level of evidence).
  • #27 For patients with moderately to severely active Crohn’s disease and objective evidence of active disease, anti-integrin therapy (with vedolizumab) with
    or without an immunomodulator is more effective than placebo and should be considered to be used for induction of symptomatic remission in patients with
    Crohn’s disease (strong recommendation, high level of evidence).
  • #30 Ustekinumab should be given for moderate-to-severe Crohn’s disease patients who failed previous treatment with corticosteroids, thiopurines, methotrexate, or anti-TNF inhibitors or who have had no prior exposure to anti-TNF inhibitors (strong recommendation, high level of evidence).
  • #46 Oral 5-aminosalicylic acid has not been demonstrated to be effective for maintenance of medically induced remission in patients with Crohn’s disease,
    and is not recommended for long-term treatment (strong recommendation, moderate level of evidence).
  • # 58 In high-risk patients, anti-TNF agents should be started within 4 weeks of surgery in order to prevent postoperative Crohn’s disease recurrence
    (conditional recommendation, low level of evidence).

From Table 2:

  • #9 Symptoms of Crohn’s disease do not correlate well with the presence of active inflammation, and therefore should not be the sole guide for therapy. Objective evaluation by endoscopic or cross-sectional imaging should be undertaken periodically to avoid errors of under– or over treatment.
  • #23 Routine use of serologic markers of IBD to establish the diagnosis of Crohn’s disease is not indicated.
  • #30 Small bowel imaging should be performed as part of the initial diagnostic workup for patients with suspected Crohn’s disease.
  • #44 Insufficient data exist to support the safety and efficacy of switching patients in stable disease maintenance from one biosimilar to another of the same biosimilar molecule.

Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist.  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.

Pediatric Home and Office Biologic Infusions -What is Needed

A recent clinical report (E Barfield et al. JPGN 2018; 66: 680-86) will be influential.  This guideline is from the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition.  Congratulations to my partner, Chelly Dykes, who is one of the coauthors.

Full textAssuring Quality for Non-Hospital Based Biologic Infusions in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Clinical Report from the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

For many years, our office has had an office-based infusion center which has provided infusions in a safe and cost-effective manner.  Recently, there have been some situations in which home-based infusions have been proposed either to lower costs and/or for convenience.  This report succinctly describes the hurdles that need to be addressed before recommending this treatment pathway. As noted below, patient safety encompasses a great deal more than infusion reactions. Delays in infusions (which can increase risk of loss of response) due to reactions and lapses in communication are additional issues.

Recommendation 1: Home- or office-based infusions should ensure safe administration of the biologic infusion, provide reliable execution of infusion-related orders (eg, laboratories for therapeutic drug monitoring, dose optimization protocols, etc), and be equipped to recognize and respond to potential complications.

  • Infusion reactions:  ” Infusion reactions associated with infliximab and vedolizumab can range from mild reactions such as fever and chills, dyspnea, pruritus, or urticaria (in approximately 5%–10%), to severe reactions including anaphylaxis, convulsions, and hypotension (<1%)”
  • Emergencies: “In the event of an urgent or emergent reaction during home- or office-based infusions, the in-home services agency (IHSA) nurse needs to be able to contact the appropriate ordering medical team member expeditiously by phone or pager to review/clarify specific concerns or needs to have an established clear policy on how to proceed with managing the reaction.” 
  • Communication: “We identified the lack or inconsistency of on-call coverage by the primary medical team when home- or office-based infusions occur as a significant barrier to safely initiating or continuing home- or office-based infusion programs. Difficulty in reaching a knowledgeable team member is a breach in reliable care and represents serious patient risk.”
  • Related work: “In addition to administering the biologic infusion, executing all other infusion-related orders is an important safety consideration. Implementing unique home infusion protocols is linked to treatment efficacy.”  

Recommendation 2: Pediatric home- or office-based infusions, particularly for patients 12 years and younger, should be staffed by a pediatric nurse professional with Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) certification and clinical experience with pediatric patients.

Recommendation 3: Evidence-based standard of care for biologic therapy maximizing effectiveness and treatment sustainability should be established before initiating home or office-based infusions.

Recommendation 4: Home- or office-based infusion pathways that decrease opportunity loss for patients and families and deliver high-quality, patient-centered care should be supported and reproduced.

Recommendation 5: Pediatric gastroenterologists should ensure appropriate shared liability with IHSAs to deliver high-quality care in home-based infusions for children by executing pragmatic steps as outlined below:

  1. “Document discussion with the patient and family about the indication, risks, and adverse event management …
  2. Refer the patient to an accredited, licensed IHSA based on patient’s insurance coverage. If no accredited, licensed IHSA for the pediatric patient exists, this is grounds for not initiating home- or office-based infusions…
  3. & 4. Use an infusion protocol… with clear directives on recognition of signs/symptoms of reactions and administration of reaction medications and use of EMS or parent transport to an emergency room.
  4. Maintain accurate documentation and communication of therapy type, dose, and frequency.
  5. Provide a reliable communication mechanism for the IHSA to notify provider of changes or infusion-related events
  6. Regularly reviewing ongoing IHSA performance with regard to delivery of services, accurate laboratory ordering and turnaround time, safety and quality concerns and timely redressal of these issues.
  7. Switch to another IHSA if the performance reliability is unsatisfactory. …we acknowledge that changing IHSAs may be difficult.”

Recommendation 6: A more equitable division of labor should be established to offset increased administrative burden placed on the pediatric gastroenterologist and medical team to effectively facilitate and maintain home- or office-based infusions, especially when driven by payer-mandated policies.

Recommendation 7: …Among patients receiving home- or office-based infusions, unreliable follow-up care with the provider as scheduled is grounds for discontinuation of home- or office-based biologic therapy.

Recommendation 8: A proper appeals process should be in place to prevent cost transference from payer to patient in payer-mandated decisions for home- or office-based infusions.

Our office practice:

  • Emergencies: In our office, there is always one physician dedicated to being available to assess patients who are receiving infusions.  This helps insure safety and in addition, helps to make sure that minor medical problems do not needlessly postpone important treatment.
  • Documentation: With our office-based infusions, each infusion is documented by the administering nurse.  This documentation along with labs are embedded in the medical record (EPIC) to help modify treatment.
  • Communication: In our office, prior to each infusion, each patient’s chart is reviewed and specific orders are given.  This assures that needed blood tests/imaging, additional treatments (eg. iron infusion), insurance authorizations, necessary followup, and personalized adjustments are made.  This type of communication needs to be replicated for home-based infusions; hence, the use of home-based infusions could result in a huge increase in uncompensated work for the treating physician.

My take: In my experience, office-based infusions can be provided safely and in a cost-effective manner.  While the convenience of home-based infusion is desirable, before implementing broadly, issues regarding communication, safety protocols, and documentation to allow modifications in therapy need to be proactively addressed. Families may not realize some of the complexities involved in managing infusions and how these issues could affect their child’s long-term response to biologic therapy.

Related blog posts:

The following image relates to another convenience-related health trend:

Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist.  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.

Ketchup Packet Ingestion–Crohn’s Disease Mimic

In the category of –“I have not seen that before”…

Link: NY Daily News Women diagnosed with Crohn’s disease actually had ketchup packet in her intestines for six years (Thanks to my son for pointing out this story)

An excerpt:

A woman believed she was suffering from Crohn’s disease for six years until doctors performed surgery and discovered a ketchup packet in the lining of her intestine.

The 41-year-old patient had symptoms consistent with the serious bowel disease — including acute abdominal pain and bloating lasting up to three days — but she did not respond to the standard treatments.

Case study reference: Visagan R, et al. BMJ Case Rep 2013. doi:10.1136/bcr-2013-009603

Related blog post: Add it to the list

 

CALM Study: Tight Control Improves Outcomes in Crohn’s Disease

A recent study (JF Colombel et al. Lancet 2017; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)32641-7 ) shows that “tight control” improves outcomes in Crohn’s disease.  This study was alluded to in a previous post: CCFA 2017 Updates (part 2)

Background: The CALM study was an open-label, randomized study.  122 adult patients were randomized to typical clinical management and 122 patients received “tight control” in which treatment was modified by fecal calprotectin (≥250 mcg/g) and CRP (≥ 0.5 mg/dL) values in addition to clinical symptoms.

Treatment was escalated in both groups in a stepwise manner.  Initial treatment was with adalimumab induction and then every other week. If patient did not meet treatment objectives, which differed in the groups, then adalimumab would be given every week, and then, if still needed, azathioprine would be added. Interestingly, both groups had ~25% of participants who were smokers which is known to worsen outcomes.

Key Findings:

  • Mucosal healing (CDEIS <4) was significantly improved in tight control group at week 48: 46% vs. 30%.
  • Similarly, steroid-free remission based on CDAI <150 was better in tight control group compared with standard treatment at week 48: 59.8% vs. 39.3%.  Endoscopic response was 50.8% compared with 40.2% respectively.

My take (1st part borrowed from authors): “Tight control of inflammation in patients with Crohn’s disease, with objective markers of disease activity  and clinical symptoms to drive treatment decisions, achieved better endoscopic and clinical outcomes than conventional care based on symptoms alone.” Yet, there are a large number who do not respond adequately and better treatments in these patients are needed.

As an aside, these response rates based on objective markers are far lower than the remission rates claimed by ImproveCareNow; thus, while ImproveCareNow is forward-thinking and helping improve outcomes with inflammatory bowel disease, we need to be careful about citing remission rate trends that are not directly linked to objective markers.