Oral Antibiotics For Refractory Inflammatory Bowel Disease

A recent retrospective study (J Breton et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2019; https://doi.org/10.1093/ibd/izz006) currently available online in advance of publication is likely to influence current practice in children with refractory inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Thanks to Ben Gold for sharing this reference.

Link to abstract: Efficacy of Combination Antibiotic Therapy for Refractory Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Here are some of the details:

  • There were 63 patients who met inclusion criteria.
  • 27 (43%) with colonic (n=18) or ileocolonic (n=9) Crohn’s disease (CD)
  • 23 (36.5%) with ulcerative colitis
  • 13 (21% classified with IBD-U.
  • 34 (54%) were corticosteroid-refractory or dependent
  • 62/63 with previous or present loss of response or primary nonresponse to anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapy
  • 48 (76.2%) were receiving anti-TNF therapy at time of antibiotic initiation
  • Of the 37 with available anti-TNF trough, 23 (62.%) were considered therapeutic  (IFX ≥5, or ADA ≥7.5)
  • Medical refractoriness “was defined by corticosteroid resistance, as shown by no or partial response to more than 7 days of hgih-dose corticosteroids (≥ 1 mg/kg/day prednisone equivalent) or primary nonresponse or loss of response to a biologic”

Antibiotic regimens: A=Amoxicillin, D =Doxycycline, M =Metronidazole, C= Ciprofloxacin, V= vancomycin. Antibiotic therapy was based on previous study which used ADM. A =50 mg/kg/day divided TID to max 500 mg/dose; D =4 mg/kg/day divided BID to max 100 mg/dose; M 15 mg/kg/day divided TID to max of 250 mg/dose. In children <8 yrs, C =20 mg/kg/day divided BID to max of 250 mg.  Vancomycin 125 mg/dose QID in <8 y and 250 mg/dose QID in ≥8 yo could be added as a 4th drug and Gentamicin cold be substituted in those with a drug allergy.

  • 45% ADM
  • 8% ADMV
  • 8% CMV
  • 8% AMV
  • 8% ACM
  • 6% ADV
  • 17% Other

Improvement with Regimen:

  • Median PUCAI dropped from 55 at baseline to 10 (P<0.0001) by 3 weeks ± 1 week after antibiotic initiation
  • 40 (63.5%) experienced a clinical response with a change in PUCAI of ≥20 points
  • 25 (39.7%) entered clinical remission, including 6 who achieved corticosteroid-free remission
  • Other markers of improvement: increased median hemoglobin (10.7–>11.6), Improved median CRP (1.1 –> 0), improved median ESR (38 –>21)
  • Use of doxycycline (OR 0.25) and high PUCAI ≥ 65 (OR 0.2) were both associated with a much lower odds of clinical remission

Outcomes:

  • Among the 25 entering clinical remission, 13 (65%) had successful rescue of current anti-TNF therapy, 6 were transitioned to another biologic (vedolizumab or ustekinumab)
  • No serious adverse drug-related toxicities were evident.  No cases of Clostridium difficile. One patient had a vaginal yeast infection

Implications:

  • The authors interpret their findings as indicating that antibiotics could serve as an effective rescue therapy in some and potentially rescue anti-TNF therapy in patients with refractory disease.
  • The discussion speculates that improvement is related to microbial modulation as dysbiosis “may play a causative role in perpetuating inflammation”
  • In those placed on antibiotics, the authors state that “clinical response should be assessed frequently and therapy discontinued if no improvement is documented within 1 week”

Safety and Antibiotic Choice:

  • While there were no safety signals evident in this study over 1 year, the long-term risks of using antibiotics is uncertain. For example, with ciprofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone, there is a well-recognized risk of permanent damage to tendons/joints (link to FDA update) and fluoroquniolones increase the risk of aortic tear/rupture.  Because aortic rupture is rare, this increased risk represents a very low absolute risk.
  • The authors indicate that doxycycline, used in 45%, had a much lower response rate.  This makes the choice of antibiotic regimen uncertain –none of the other regimens were used in more than 8%.
  • Given the retrospective nature, it is unclear whether some of the improvement could be related to additional time for the adjunctive/non-antibiotic treatments to work. Though, the authors found that the effect of antibiotics seemed to be independent of therapy optimization.

My take: This is an important study for children with limited treatment options in the setting of refractory disease and may act to salvage current anti-TNF treatment or facilitate a bridge to an alternative treatment.  Though, the optimal antibiotic regimen in this setting is unclear.

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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.

Heart-shaped Cactus, Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park. This image selected since this article discusses a ‘bridge’ therapy,

 

Likelihood of Opioid Dependency If Opioid Given During an IBD Flare

According to a recent study (Full Link: MR Noureldn, PDR Higgins et al. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2019;49:74–83. Incidence and predictors of new persistent opioid use following inflammatory bowel disease flares treated with oral corticosteroids), and with the limitation of using an insurance database –Key Findings:

  • 5411 (35.8%) were opioid‐naïve patients (mean age 43.9 yrs) of which 35.0% developed persistent opioid use after the flare
  • Factors associated with new persistent opioid use include a history of depression (hazard ratio [HR] 1.29, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.13‐1.47), substance abuse (HR 1.36, 95% CI 1.2‐1.54), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (HR 1.17, 95% CI 1.04‐1.3), as well as, Crohn’s disease (HR 1.26, 95% CI 1.14‐1.4) or indeterminate colitis (HR 1.6, 95% CI 1.36‐1.88)

My take: As noted in previous blog (Increased Narcotic Usage in Pediatric Patients with IBD), opioid usage is an issue with pediatric IBD patients as well, particularly in those with associated depression and/or anxiety.

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Marijuana Use in Adolescents/Young Adults with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

A recent study (EJ Hoffenberg et al. J Pediatr 2018; 199: 99-105) examined the use of marijuana in 13-23 year age group with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) at the Children’s Hospital for Colorado.

This relatively small study (n=99 — 62 with Crohn’s, 27 with ulcerative colitis, 10 with indeterminate colitis) found the following:

  • Marijuana use was endorsed by 32 (32%) and that 9 used daily or almost-daily.
  • Users were 10.7 times more likely to perceive low risk of harm (P<.001)
  • 17 of 30 stated a medical reason for use (16 with physical pain)
  • The most common route of use was smoking (83%)

Limitations:

  • 80% of participants had inactive or mild disease
  • There was no control (non-IBD) group to compare frequency of marijuana use
  • Study performed in state with legalized recreational marijuana

My take: We know very little about how marijuana impacts IBD course and whether it is safe.  This study indicates frequent use of marijuana in the 13-23 year age group.  Thus, it is an issue that needs to be examined further.

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Three Sisters, Peaks near Canmore, Alberta

Clostridium difficile and Inflammatory Bowel Disease

My view is that Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) in children with inflammatory bowel disease is often overdiagnosed due to detection of a carrier state in many when tested by PCR assays and the overlapping clinical features.  This is particularly important when considering fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) due to the potential risks of this treatment.

Recently, I had a letter to the editor (J Pediatr 2018; 199: 283) on this topic that was accepted:

The author’s reply suggested that their approach followed IDSA guidelines by checking CDI with PCR in those who were clinically-symptomatic.  Yet, the IDSA guidelines (link here: IDSA C diff guidelines) do not focus on the issue of IBD flare-ups which cause identical symptoms.  Expert IBD specialists have recommended the following for identifying CDI in patients with IBD:

“Start with enzyme immunoassay-based tests with a reflex to PCR test for discordant enzyme immunoassay results.”  Rationale: “PCR is quite sensitive for the presence of toxigenic C difficile, it may increase the detection of asymptomatic colonization and shedding.” (K Rao, PDR Higgins. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2016; 22: 1744-54.)

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ICN Travel Toolkit -Tips for Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

ImproveCareNow’s Patient Advisory Committee: ICN Travel Toolkit – a collection of personal stories, plus tips and techniques for traveling with IBD – written by members of the ICN Patient Advisory Council (PAC).

In addition to the tips offered by the PAC (see below), I would recommend that those travelling keep a succinct medical summary with the following (minimum):

  • Diagnosis and extent of disease
  • Other medical problems
  • Physician (contact info)
  • Allergies –food/medicines
  • Current list of medications including dosage and frequency
  • List of prior treatments
  • Previous surgeries

Also, below are other travel -related links, including to the CDC travel website which makes recommendations based on travel destination along with underlying problems.

A summary of the ICN travel tips from the PAC PowerPoint Presentation:

 

 

Concurrent Infections in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Flares

Briefly noted: Y Hanada et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2018; 16: 528-33.

In this retrospective review with 9247 patients with IBD, the incidence of bacterial pathogens (non-C diff) identified was <3% of those who were tested; in this group (n=25), Aeromonas was detected in 8,Salmonella in 7, Plesiomonas in 4, Campylobacter in 2, and Yersinia in 2.  From authors: “These infections did not have a significant negative impact on patient outcomes.  Given these findings, routine testing for infections other than CDI is not recommended.”

Chattahoochee River

NY Times: Humira’s Best-Selling Drug Formula: Start at a High Price. Go Higher.

NY Times: Humira’s Best-Selling Drug Formula: Start at a High Price. Go Higher.

An excerpt:

Humira is the best-selling prescription drug in the world…The price of Humira, an anti-inflammatory drug dispensed in an injectable pen, has risen from about $19,000 a year in 2012, to more than $38,000 today, per patient, after rebates, according to SSR Health, a research firm. That’s an increase of 100 percent…

How much you actually pay out of pocket, and whether you can afford Humira at all, depend on your insurance and eligibility for discounts…

Humira, which accounted for nearly two-thirds of AbbVie’s $25.6 billion in revenue in 2016, was not simple to develop. It is among a new class of drugs known as biologics, which are made from living cells rather than synthetic chemicals…

Looking at the international picture tells its own story about drug costs. A prefilled carton with two syringes costs $2,669 in the United States, compared with $1,362 in Britain, $822 in Switzerland and $552 in South Africa…

An analysis by the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review found that Humira’s list price would need to be discounted by at least 55 percent to be cost effective for rheumatoid arthritis, its originally approved use.

Dr. Steven D. Pearson, the founder of the institute, which provides cost benefit data to health plans, said competing drugs were overpriced as well.

“Even in a space like this, where there is a lot of competition, we don’t see the prices coming down,” he said. “That speaks to the fact that it doesn’t often function like a free market usually would.”..

AbbVie joined a few of its rivals in saying it would limit price increases to single digits this year, and so only raised Humira by another 9.7 percent this month, roughly four and a half times the inflation rate. For the drug industry, that counts as generosity.

My take: Humira is a very important and effective medication, particularly for inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis. I infer from this article which compares the Humira pricing strategy to that used by Martin Shkreli that if U.S. consumers are to have more affordable pharmaceuticals, government intervention will be needed. AbbVie, like many other pharmaceutical companies, will continue to aggressively price Humira; after all, 8 billion in profits is not as good as 10 billion.

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