Practice Tips for New IBD Therapies

A recent review provides some helpful advice: “A Practical Guide to the Safety and Monitoring of New IBD Therapies” (B Click, M Regueiro. Inflamm Bowel Dis 209; 25: 831-42).

This review discusses infection risk, malignancy risk, immunologic issues and other complications.

In terms of infection risk assessment, the authors describe a pyramid in which they stratify the risks of medications.  The safest to least safe in their assessment: vedolizumab –>ustekinumab–>anti-TNF monotherapy–>thiopurine or tofacintinib–>thiopurine/anti-TNF combination–>steroids.

Their Tables:

  • Table 1 lists potential infections and vaccination recommendations
  • Table 2 suggests management of active infections by IBD Medication Class
    • For anti-TNF agents and for IL12/23 agents: the authors recommend continuation of agent if viral (eg EBV, VZV, HSV) or bacterial (eg. Strep/Staph)/C difficile infections (unless severe) but holding for opportunistic infections.
    • For integrin agents, the authors recommend continuation of medications in the face of infections except “consider holding dose” during active C difficile infection
    • For JAK agents, the authors recommend stopping during viral infections and with opportunistic infections.  They recommend continuing with bacterial infections (hold if severe) and continuing with C difficile infection
  • Table 3 suggests management in the setting of active malignancy
    • Table 4 lists recommendations in the setting of immunologic complications.  Theses categories include antidrug antibodies,lupus-like reactions, demyelinating conditions, and psoriasis.
    • One of the points alluding to in this chart is that addition of methotrexate may help in patients receiving anti-TNF therapy with psoriasis.
    • No psoriatic reactions have been reported with vedolizumab, ustekinumab or tofacitinib; ustekinumab is FDA-approved for use in psoriasis and tofacitinib is FDA-approved for psoriatic arthritis.
  • Table 5 suggests recommendations in the setting of altered liver enzymes and altered lipids/creatine kinase

Related posts:

Clostridium difficile Risk Factors in Children

From J Pediatr -full text: Risk Factors for Community-Associated Clostridium difficile Infection in Children  (DJ Adams J Pediatr 2017; 186: 105-9)

Methods: We performed a case-control study using billing records from the US military health system database

Results (from abstract):

A total of 1331 children with CA-CDI were identified and 3993 controls were matched successfully. Recent exposure to fluoroquinolones, clindamycin (OR 73.00; 95% CI 13.85-384.68), third-generation cephalosporins (OR 16.32; 95% CI 9.11-29.26), proton pump inhibitors (OR 8.17; 95% CI 2.35-28.38), and to multiple classes of antibiotics, each was associated strongly the subsequent diagnosis of CA-CDI. Recent exposure to outpatient healthcare clinics (OR 1.35; 95% CI 1.31-1.39) or to a family member with CDI also was associated with CA-CDI.

Table 2 lists other medications and their risks; for example, corticosteroids had adjusted OR of 1.22 and H2-receptor antagonists had adjusted OR of 3.33.  The OR of fluoroquinolone could not be calculated as 51 cases were exposed compared with 0 controls

In their discussion, the authors note the following:

Our study supports the occurrence of CDI among a population of children who were never hospitalized previously and provides a broad characterization of the medication and epidemiologic exposures associated with pediatric CA-CDI cases. Recent exposure to fluoroquinolones, clindamycin, third-generation cephalosporins, and to multiple classes of antibiotics was associated strongly with the subsequent diagnosis of CA-CDI in children; however, a sizeable minority had no preceding antibiotic exposure.

My take: This large study shows that CDI is more frequent after antibiotic usage and after usage of acid suppression (particularly with proton pump inhibitor) therapy.

Related blog posts:

Safer Than You Think: Biologic Therapies for IBD and Risk of Infection and Malignancy

While there have been a number of studies which have highlighted the potential risks of biologic agents, many studies have NOT identified any risk of infection or malignancy.

Another recent systematic review/meta-analysis (S Bonovas et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2016; 14: 1385-97) provides reassuring data regarding the following biologics: infliximab, adalimumab, certolizumab, golimumab, natalizumab, and vedolizumab.

The authors identified 49 randomized placebo-controlled studies with 14,590 participants.

Key findings:

  • There was a moderate infection risk with odds ratio of 1.19 (19% increase in odds of developing an infection) and significant increase in opportunistic infections (eg. tuberculosis) OR 1.90
  • Risk of serious infections was NOT increased in patients treated with biologics with OR 0.89.  In studies with low risk of bias, the risk of serious infections had OR of 0.56.
  • No increase in malignancy risk was identified with OR 0.90 but the authors note that data was insufficient in terms of exposure and follow-up to be conclusive.

The authors note that the studies including in this review challenge some of the findings of observational studies. “However, observational studies lack the experimental random allocation of participants…the discrepancies between observational studies and randomized trial evidence might be explained by the inability of observational designs to fully address the complex and important differences between the IBD patients receiving and those not receiving biologics.”

Study limitations include “sponsorship bias -because the trials were supported by pharmaceutical companies and limited followup of 24 months. In addition, most of the trials in the meta-analysis were judged to be at high or unclear risk of bias because of their methodological characteristics.

My take: This study indicates that biologic therapies do not appear to increase the risk of serious infections and may not increase the overall risk of malignancy.

Related blog posts:

Portland Fish Market

Portland Fish Market



“Explain It To Me Like I’m a Six Year Old”

Sometimes when I read an article, I wish it was presented in a much simpler manner.  In the movie “Philadelphia,” the lawyer played by Denzel Washington tells his clients to “explain it to me like I’m a six-year-old.”

A recent clinical report (MI Ardura et al. JPGN 2016; 63: 130-55) probably would have benefitted from this idea to some degree.  This report examines infectious disease issues with regard to patients receiving tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) inhibitors.  All in all, it is very thorough and reviews more than 20 infectious agents (bacteria, fungi, mycobacteria, and viral agents).

Table 2 is most helpful.  In this table, the authors recommend that before starting TNF inhibitors:

  • Risk factor screening for Brucella (eg exposure to animals, unpasteurized dairy products), Bartonella (eg exposure to kitten), Listeria (eg dietary history), Salmonella (eg exposure to reptiles), Aspergillus (eg exposure to construction), coccidioidomycosis (exposure to endemic area), Histoplasma (long list of exposures listed in Table 3 includes barns, caves, chicken coops, old buildings), and Hepatitis C virus
  • Direct testing is recommended for Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Hepatitis B virus, HIV (≥ 13 yrs if in hospital or ≥15 years), and Varicella zoster virus

Table 4 lists recommended vaccines.  For live virus vaccines, the authors recommend to avoid unless they can be administered at least 4 weeks prior to immunosuppressive therapy.

Other useful information:

  • “Granulomatous infections caused by bacteria, mycobacteria, and fungi are the most frequently  described infections in patients receiving anti-TNFα therapies.”
  • Infection rates of 239/100,000 reported with infliximab between 1998-2002.
  • More than 70% of these infections occurred within 3 to 6 months of starting infliximab therapy, “suggesting the possibility of reactivation of latent infection.”
  • M tuberculosis was most common (54/100,000)
  • “In general, anti-TNFα therapy should be discontinued during any severe infection.”

My take: This report offers a lot of information. Its impact on daily practice would be much greater if the authors created a simple one-sheet screening questionnaire form with recommended bloodwork and vaccines.

Related blog posts:

Shem Creek Pelican Art

Shem Creek Pelican Art

Adverse Events Following Pediatric Endoscopy –Underestimated Previously

A recent study (RE Kramer, MR Narkewicz. JPGN 2016; 62: 828-33) report the frequency of adverse events that occurred within 72 hours in a prospective observational cohort of 9577 patients from a single center.

The authors characterized complications more precisely and identified a much higher rate of complications than what has previously been reported.  Key findings:

  • The overall adverse event rate was 2.6% with 1.7% of all cases requiring unanticipated medical care.
  • Absolute risk of bleeding was 0.11%, infection 0.07%, and perforation 0.1% (n=12).  In total, these standard measures of complications were 0.28%.
  • Advanced and therapeutic cases had much higher rates of adverse events. Perforations occurred after esophageal dilatation (5), esophageal food impaction (1), polypectomy (4), and primary GJ placement (2).
  • Adverse rate with ERCP was 11.54%
  • Adverse rate with PEG was 10.71%
  • Adverse rate with dilatation was 10.94%.  It is noted that a total of 319 dilatations were reviewed.  5 had perforations.
  • Adverse rate with polypectomy was 6.27%.  It is noted that a total of 128 polypectomies were reviewed.  4 had perforations.
  • The authors did not identify a significantly higher complication rate with trainee physicians.

As noted in a previous entry (see below), studies in adults have an estimated a perforation rate of 0.09% and serious complication rates (GI and non-GI complications) of 0.15% for upper endoscopy and of 0.2% for colonoscopy. In addition, a large pediatric study of endoscopies, found a perforation rate of 0.014% for EGDs and 0.028% for colonoscopies. Thus, this report identifies a higher rate (10-fold) of perforation (driven by therapeutic endoscopy) and a much higher rate of adverse events, including 2.08% in diagnostic EGD and 3.9% for diagnostic colonoscopy.  Furthermore, for diagnostic EGD and for diagnostic colonoscopy, grade 2 (needing ER or unanticipated physician evaluation) or higher adverse events occurred in 1.21% and 2.31% respectively.

My take: Using a broader (and more accurate) definition of complications after endoscopy, the authors have demonstrated a much higher rate of adverse events, particularly following dilatation, PEG, polypectomy, and ERCP.  This report indicates that our preop counseling needs to be modified to inform families that complications are not quite so rare.

Related blog post:  High Endoscopy Complication Rate After Intestinal …

Complication -Unrelated to endoscopy:

pontine myelinosis

Sticky Decisions with IBD Therapy – When an Infection or Malignancy Develops

A recent review article provides advice for management of biologics and immunomodulators when an infection or malignancy develops (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2014; 20: 926-35).  Serious infections are noted in 3-5% of adults receiving either thiopurines or anti-tumor necrosis factor agents (anti-TNFs); less than 0.1% of adults develop treatment-related lymphoma.  The recommendations are provided in 5 separate tables.

Table 1 addresses the issue of bacterial infectionsFor mild infections, the authors recommend that thiopurines (azathiopurine, 6-mercaptopurine) as well as anti-tumor necrosis factor agents (infliximab, adalimumab, certolizumab, golimumab) be continued.  Examples of these ‘mild’ infectious included E. coli UTI and strep pharyngitis.  For severe bacterial infections (eg. pneumococcal pneumonia), for both these therapies, the authors recommend: “stop, but may restart once treated.”  For bacterial opportunistic infections (eg. mycobacterium), for latent infections, “do not start until 2 to 4 wk INH” whereas for active infections, the authors recommend (for anti-TNFs) “stop, only restart after full treatment, and if IBD is severe.”

  • Table 2 addresses fungal infections.
  • Table 3 addresses viral infections (eg. CMV, EBV).  For EBV, the authors recommend stopping thiopurines and not restarting in male patients.
  • Table 4 addresses malignancy: solid tumors, hepatosplenic T-cell, EBV-associated lymphoma, and lymphoproliferative lymphoma.
  • Table 5 addresses skin cancers.

Towards the end of the review, the authors provide some context for the risks with thiopurines and anti-TNFs.  “The majority of side effects associated with thiopurines and anti-TNFs are mild, self-limited and reversible…the risk of a lymphoma developing on AZA/6-MP (4/10,000 patient-years) is comparable with the lifetime risk of dying from drowning (1/1112) or dying in a bicycle accident (1/5000).  The risk is much less than the risk of dying in an automobile accident (1/108).  Patients are willing to accept risks..if their disease is severe and the chance of a clinical response outweighs the risk.”

With regard to dual therapy, the authors note, “it has been our practice to lower the concomitant AZA/6-MP in patients on combination therapy with anti-TNF and then to stop the thiopurine in patients in deep remission for 3 years. However, this decision must be individualized, and for patients with severe, disabling disease, we generally do not alter treatment.”

Bottomline: This is a useful advice/handy reference for the sticky situation of managing IBD in the face of infections and malignancy.

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.