The Curtain or The Box: Therapeutic Dilemmas

X Roblin et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2022; 28: 720-727. Swapping Versus Dose Optimization in Patients Losing Response to Adalimumab With Adequate Drug Levels

Many times, treatment decisions are like on “Let’s Make a Deal.” That is, should I stick with what I’ve got or should I try for something better & sometimes wind up with a goat. In this referenced article, patients were under maintenance therapy with adalimumab (ADA) monotherapy (40 mg every 14 days) and had experienced a secondary loss of response (LOR) despite trough levels > 4.9 μg/mL. In this nonrandomized prospective study, patients were either swapped to vedolizumab (VDZ) or optimized on adalimumab (ADA) treatment.

Key findings:

  • At 24 months, 11 out of 70 patients (16%) in the swap group discontinued treatment compared with 36 out of 61 (59%) patients in the optimization group (P < 0.001)
  • In the optimization group, treatment discontinuation was positively associated with baseline fecal calprotectin >500 μg/g (HR, 3.5)
  • In patients selected for optimization, 56% (34/61) remained on ADA at 1 year and 41% (25/61) at 2 years

In their discussion, the authors state “current guidelines recommend switching to another class of biologics in case of LOR to ADA with therapeutic drug levels.” However, the authors note that their therapeutic level cut-off of >4.9 mcg/mL is lower than the latest recommendations. In addition, in their conclusion, they note that due to limited biologic options, “ADA optimization strategy might be considered” in a subgroup.

My take: Despite better results in the patients that swapped to VDZ in this study, I think it is important to assure adequate drug levels before choosing a new drug class. For ADA, expert recommendations have suggested a level of 8-12 as therapeutic and to avoid discontinuation if ADA level is less than 10. In this study, more than 40% remained on ADA two years after LOR in those with dosing optimization.

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Panoramic View -Sandia Mountain, NM

IBD Shorts -March 2018

T Piester et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2018; 24: 227-34.  Stanford group published data on 49 patients which highlight the utility of a point of care (mobile) infliximab (IFX) dosing calculator:  In their cohort, the IFX calculator recommendations were for IFX dosing escalations in 13% of the 222 calculations.  Overall, the IFX calculator was part of a larger quality initiative (QI) to achieve therapeutic drug levels >5 mcg/mL which occurred in 81% during the QI period.

JC deBruyn et al. JPGN 2018; 66: 268-77. This was a retrospective review of infliximab (IFX) in pediatric Crohn’s disease with 180 children. The authors determined that IFX had good therapeutic durability with 91% remaining on IFX after 2 years of treatment.

FS Macaluso et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2018; 24: 394-401. In this 2-year study, among 630 patients, 46 had a modestly-dosed immunomodulator added to anti-TNF therapy due to loss of response (31 to IFX or biosimilar, 10 with adalimumab, and 5 with golimumab).  This resulted in a steroid-free remission in 15 (32.6%) and a clinical response in 6 (13.0%). The immunomodulators were azathioprine in 15, 6-mercaptopurine in 5, methotrexate in 20, and mycophenolate mofetil in 6. The median doses for immunomodulators were 1.64 mg/kg/day, 0.84 mg/kg/day, 15.6 mg/week, and 1500 mg/day respectively.

C Reenaers et al. Clin Gastroenter Hepatol 2018; 16: 234-43. This retrospective study examined 7-year outcomes from a STORI cohort of 115 adults with Crohn’s disease (CD) with combination therapy who had infliximab withdrawal after achieving sustained remission. Among those restarting infliximab, treatment failed in 30.1%; 70.2% “had no failure of de-escalation strategy.” Major complicatins occurred in 18.5% of patients. Risk factors for failure included anemia (Hgb <12.5), increased white blood cell count >5.0, and upper GI location of CD.

VM Merrick et al. JPGN 2018; 66: 274-80.  This UK “real-life” review of 37 centers and 524 patients (429 with Crohn’s disease) found a remarkably poor rate of documentation.  They could determine the remission rates in only 71 of these patients (65% 46 of 71).  Thus, in the real-world, presumably in adults and children, most institutions do not know their remission rates.  While the determination of remission still relies on imperfect measures, the centers who participate in ImproveCareNow have high documentation rates –this is also a real-world experience as more than 29,000 patients and more than 900 pediatric GI doctors participate.