Proactive Therapeutic Drug Monitoring in Pediatric Crohn’s disease -Better Outcomes

Y Gofin et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 1276-82.  Therapeutic Drug Monitoring Increases Drug Retention of Anti–Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha Agents in Pediatric Patients With Crohn’s Disease

Retrospective study with 197 pediatric participants (2007-2018)

Key findings:

  • Compared with the TDM- group (n=98), the TDM+ group (n=99)
    • longer drug retention time (mean ± SE, 45.0 ± 2.7 vs 33.5 ± 2.4 months; P = 0.001)
    • lower hospitalization rate per patient per year (mean ± SE, 0.51 ± 0.7 vs 0.92 ± 0.81; P < 0.001)
    • higher treatment intensification rate (70% vs 18%; P < 0.001).
  • Analysis of the entire cohort showed a longer retention time for adalimumab vs infliximab (45.3 ± 2.8 vs 34.8 ± 2.5 months; P = 0.007)

My take: This is another study showing utility of proactive therapeutic drug monitoring

Related blog posts:

Expert Guidance on Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Part 2)

A recent issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology focused solely on the clinical features and management of inflammatory bowel disease. Even for those with expertise in IBD, there is a lot of useful information and concise reviews of what is known.

Here are some of my notes from this issue (part 2)

S Danese et al. Clinical Gastroenterol Hepatol: 2020; 18: 1280-90. Positioning Therapies in Ulcerative Colitis

This is a good article but recent AGA publications are probably better –there are some links below. One statement that was interesting: “the safety profile of vedolizumab seems even better than placebo in terms of risk of serious” adverse events. The authors favored infliximab in combination with azathioprine in those needing biologic therapy with moderate-severe UC.

Related blog posts:

S Vermeire et al. Clinical Gastroenterol Hepatol: 2020; 18: 1291-9. How, When, and for Whom Should We Perform Therapeutic Drug Monitoring?

“Although reactive TDM, testing at time of loss of response, is widely accepted in practice, especially for anti–tumor necrosis factor antibodies, there are less data for the other monoclonal antibodies belonging to other classes. Besides reactive testing, there is a movement toward proactively adjusting biologic dosing to prevent loss of response, in keeping with the tight control philosophy of inflammatory bowel disease care.” The authors favor proactive monitoring: “we are now beginning to see with well-powered proactive TDM studies” that proactive monitoring can maximize the benefits of TDM with “the potential to maximize durability of biologics and improve the outcomes of IBD patients.”

Related blog posts:

PS Dulai et al. Clinical Gastroenterol Hepatol: 2020; 18: 1300-8. How Do We Treat Inflammatory Bowel Diseases to Aim For Endoscopic Remission?

The initial part of this article reviews treatment targets -resolution of symptoms and resolution of endoscopic damage. The algorithm provides the authors’ suggested approach:

  • At initiation of therapy, patients should have a full assessment.  In addition to ileocolonoscopy, for patients with CD, the authors recommend cross-sectional imaging.
  • After treatment initiation, the authors recommend biomarker assessment every 3 months.  Mucosal assessment can occur 6-9 months after treatment initiation.
  • For UC, the authors note that fecal calprotectin (FC) “appears to be more stratightforward, and a cutoff of 250 mcg/g can be used reliably across all scenarios to make treatment adjustments.”  Though, they recommend endoscopic confirmation prior to transition to a biologic or small molecule therapy.
  • For CD, the authors suggest making treatment adjustments in those with FC >250 mcg/g and in those with lower values, followup colonoscopy is recommended.
  • The authors note that in the post-operative setting with CD, mucosal inflammation precedes symptomatic activity and “waiting for symptoms to emerge may unnecessary allow for disease progression.”
  • The authors suggest that tighter disease control will reduce disease-related complications, while acknowledging a lack of prospective clinical trials.
  • One thorny issue: :”For CD: it remains unclear what degree of residual mucosal healing is acceptable to impact important outcomes such as CD-related complications, hospitalizations, and surgeries.”

Related blog posts:

M Allocca et al. Clinical Gastroenterol Hepatol: 2020; 18: 1309-23. Use of Cross-Sectional Imaging for Tight Monitoring of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

“Computed tomography is limited by the use of radiation, while the use of magnetic resonance enterography (MRE) is limited by its cost and access. There is growing interest in bowel ultrasound that represents a cost-effective, noninvasive, and well-tolerated modality in clinical practice, but it is operator dependent… Diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) is a MR imaging technique that increasingly is used in both IBD and non-IBD conditions and has been shown to be a valuable and accurate tool for assessing and monitoring IBD activity.

L Beaugerie et al. Clinical Gastroenterol Hepatol: 2020; 18: 1324-35. Predicting, Preventing, and Managing Treatment-Related Complications in Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

The first part of this article reviews potential adverse effects from the medications used for IBD treatment, noting in Table 1 that there are not complications to monitor for with both vedolizumab and ustekinumab.

The article reviews infections, vaccination strategies and issues related to malignancy Some of the recommendations:

  • vaccine against pneumococcus should be given before patients begin immunosuppressive therapy
  • physicians should consider giving patients live vaccines against herpes zoster (in adults) before they begin immunosuppressive therapy or a recombinant vaccine, when available, at any time point during treatment
  • sun protection and skin surveillance from the time of diagnosis are recommended
  • despite concerns about therapy, the authors note that “the extensive use of immunosuppressive therapy leads to a substantial decrease in the incidence of IBD complications, with a globally favorable benefit-risk ratio, which can be optimized further thanks to a good degree of awareness and knowledge of drug complications.”

It is interesting that this article (and the entire issue) does not address mental health concerns related to the diagnosis of IBD.  This likely creates more morbidity and complications than most of the other issues that are discussed.

Above: Why did the picture go to jail? Because it was framed.

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.

IBD Shorts February 2020

Cost of IBD Care is Increasing. From Healio Gastro: Chronic inflammatory disease expenditures nearly double over last 2 decades Reference: Click B, et al. Poster 22. Presented at: Crohn’s and Colitis Congress; Jan. 23-25, 2020; Austin, Texas

An excerpt from Healio Gastro summary: [Using] the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), a nationally representative database of health care use and expenditure data collected since 1998The researchers assessed total annual, outpatient, inpatient, emergency and pharmacy expenditures in both patients with IBD (n = 641) and RA (n = 641). They used three separate time periods – 1998-2001, 2006-2009 and 2012-2015 –to compare expenditures over time…

Median per-patient annual health care expenditure in patients with IBD was $6,570 compared with $4,010 in patients with RA across all years of the study. Total annual spending increased approximately 2.2 times (95% CI, 1.6-3; P < .01) over the study period and was 36% higher in IBD than RA (P = 0.01).

Pharmaceutical spending increased more than fourfold (95% CI, 3.2-6.1; P < .01) and became the largest cost category (44% total). However, inpatient expenses in IBD decreased 40% over the study period.

My take: While the cost has increased, these new treatments are improving outcomes.  With the emergence of biosimilars, there may be improvement in pharmaceutical spending.

More on Proactive Therapeutic Drug Monitoring (pTDM) Being Helpful: SR Fernandes et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 263-70, editorial 271-2.  In this study, a prospective group of patients (n=56) undergoing pTDM were compared with a historical control group (n=149). pTDM had less frequent surgery (9% vs. 21%) and higher rates of mucosal healing (73% vs. 39%).  Treatment escalation was 3 times more common with pTDM than in the control group.

Increased risk of VTE in IBD patientsJD McCurdy et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020;

Abstract Link: Risk of Venous Thromboembolism After Hospital Discharge in Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Population-based Study

In a population-based study from Ontario, the authors analyzed a total of 81,900 IBD discharges (62,848 nonsurgical and 19,052 surgical) which were matched to non-IBD controls… The cumulative incidence of VTE at 12 months after discharge was 2.3% for nonsurgical IBD patients and 1.6% for surgical IBD patients…Nonsurgical IBD patients and surgical patients with ulcerative colitis are 1.7-fold more likely to develop postdischarge VTE than non-IBD patients.

Here’s The Proof That Proactive Drug Monitoring Improves Outcomes in Children With Crohn’s Disease

A nonblinded randomized controlled trial (A Assa et al. Gastroenterology 2019; 157: 985-06) with 78 children who had Crohn’s disease provides some of the best evidence to date that proactive therapeutic drug monitoring (pTDM) is important for anti-TNF therapy. The trial was called the PAILOT =Paediatric Crohn’s disease Adalimumab-Level-based Optimisation Treatment.  This is the first RCT of pTDM that actually achieved its primary end point.

In this study, children were divided into a pTDM group (n=38) who received adalimumab levels at weeks 4 and 8 along with every 8 weeks unitl week 72.  The control group (n=31) had reactive monitoring.  The investigators aimed for a trough concentrations above 5 mcg/mL.

Key findings:

  • The primary endpoint of sustained corticosteroid-free clinical remission (CFCR) was achieved in 82% of the pTDM group compared to 48% in the reactive monitoring group (p-.002).
  • The pTMD also  had a higher rate of the composite outcome (CFCR, CRP ≤0.5 mg/dL, and calprotectin ≤150): 42% compared to 12% in the control group (p=.003)
  • 87% of pTDM had dose intensification compared to 60% in control group.

The editorial by Papamichael and Cheifetz (pg 922-4) highlights some additional observations:

  • “The study actually showed that a 10.0 mcg/mL threshold performed better than 7.5 and 5.0 mcg/mL” with respect to PCDAI and CRP levels.
  • “The recent prospective Personalized anti-TNF therapy in Crohn’s disease study (PANTS) showed that the optimal week 14 adalimumab concentration …at both week 14 and 54 was 12 mcg/mL”

My take: Most pediatric gastroenterologist understand the importance of pTDM, especially as conventional dosing of anti-TNF agents is often too low.  This study provides some needed proof and hopefully will aid our efforts to get adequate insurance coverage.  The optimal frequency and timing of pTDM still needs work.

Related blog posts:

I really enjoyed my recent trip to Chicago. Here’s a picture from Lincoln Park Zoo from my favorite photographer

CCFA: Updates in IBD Conference (part 1)

My notes from a recent Georgia Chapter of CCFA’s conference. There could be errors of omission, transcription and/or errors in context based on my understanding.

Adam Cheifetz, MD Harvard School of Medicine

Optimizing IBD Treatments

  • Earlier treatment with effective therapies
  • Utilizing therapeutic drug monitoring

Goals are clinical and endoscopic remission

  • Imaging if not visible on endoscopy
  • Biomarker remission -adjunctive goal
  • Symptoms and endoscopy do not have good correlation in Crohn’s disease
  • Endoscopic healing associated with better outcomes
  • Treatment –>assessment –> adjust treatment if goal is not met

Biologic Agents:

  • First agent works best; TNF-exposed patients do not respond as well as TNF-naive patients to subsequent biologic
  • High rate of secondary loss of response

Therapeutic Drug Monitoring:

  • Combination therapy in Sonic study was associated with higher infliximab levels. It appears that optimized monotherapy is as effective as combination therapy (Colombel study).
  • Fistula treatment requires higher biologic levels
  • Lower biologic drug levels associated with development of antidrug antibodies
  • Proactive monitoring –recommended
  • Both infliximab and adalimumab are frequently underdosed, especially in pediatrics –>another reason for proactive monitoring
  • If sicker patients, consider checking TDM at week 10; less sick patients, reasonable to consider TDM at week 14

Related blog posts:

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.

Proactive Therapeutic Drug Monitoring -Different Time Points

Yesterday’s post outlined expert recommendations for proactive therapeutic drug monitoring (pTDM).  Today’s post reviews a study (NV Casteele et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2019; 17: 1814-21) which identifies optimal levels at earlier time points. The authors note that “higher infliximab (IFX) concentrations during induction therapy  are correlated with long-term relapse-free and colectomy-free survival.”

The authors analyzed data from 484 patients with active ulcerative colitis (UC) from two double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group studies: ACT-1 and ACT-2.

Key findings:

  • IFX levels ≥18.6 mcg/mL at week 2, ≥10.6 mcg/mL at week 6, and ≥34.9 mcg/mL at week 8 were associated with Mayo endoscopic scores (MES) of ≤1 at week 8.
  • IFX level of ≥5.1 mcg/mL at week 14 was associated with MES of ≤1 at week 30
  • IFX level of ≥6.7 mcg/mL at week 14 was associated with MES of 0 at week 30

My take: In pediatric patients receiving monotherapy with an anti-TNF agent, checking earlier levels (week 6, week 8, or week 10) may help avoid low troughs which are associated with a higher likelihood of treatment failure.  This study provides guidance on target levels at earlier time points.

Related blog posts:

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.

Crater Lake, OR. The blue color is amazing !


Appropriate Proactive Therapeutic Drug Monitoring

This blog post and tomorrow’s post highlights two articles on proactive therapeutic drug monitoring (pTDM) for inflammatory bowel disease.  The first article (K Papmichael et al.  Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2019; 17: 1655-68) summarizes a meeting of 13 international IBD specialists who reached consensus on 24 statements after a review of the literature.

Full Text Link:  Appropriate Therapeutic Drug Monitoring of Biologic Agents for Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Key Recommendations:

  • For anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapies, proactive TDM was found to be appropriate after induction and at least once during maintenance therapy, but this was not the case for the other biologics.
  • Reactive TDM was appropriate for all biologic agents both for primary non-response and secondary loss of response

Background/Rationale for pTDM:

  • “Numerous studies have demonstrated a positive correlation between serum biologic drug.concentrations and favorable therapeutic outcomes”
  • “Low or undetectable drug concentrations can lead to immunogenicity and treatment failures”
  • “TDM…is an important tool for optimizing biologic therapy…Data suggest that pTDM, with drug titration to a target trough concentration, performed in patients with clinical response/remission can also improve the efficacy of anti-TNFs”

Table 4  Scenarios of Applying Therapeutic Drug Monitoring of Biological Therapy in Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Disease

1-4: Anti-TNFs:

  • It is appropriate to order drug/antibody concentration testing in responders at the end of induction for all anti-TNFs.
  • It is appropriate to order drug/antibody concentration testing at least once during maintenance for patients on all anti-TNFs.
  • It is appropriate to order drug/antibody concentration testing of anti-TNFs at the end of induction in primary non-responders.
  • It is appropriate to order drug/antibody concentration testing for all anti-TNFs in patients with confirmed secondary loss of response.

5-8: Vedolizumab -agreement only on ordering TDM in non-responders or those with loss of response

9-12: Ustekinumab  -agreement only on ordering TDM in non-responders or those with loss of response

From Table 5: Biological Drug Concentrations and Anti-Drug Antibodies When Applying Therapeutic Drug Monitoring in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

  • Infliximab: 15. In the presence of adequate trough drug concentrations, anti-drug antibodies are unlikely to be clinically relevant.
  • Infliximab: 19. The minimal trough concentration for infliximab post-induction at week 14 should be greater than 3 μg/mL, and concentrations greater than 7 μg/mL are associated with an increased likelihood of mucosal healing.
  • Adalimumab: 22. The minimum drug concentration at week 4 for adalimumab should at least be 5 μg/mL. Drug concentrations greater than 7 μg/ml are associated with an increased likelihood of mucosal healing.
  • Certolizumab: 24 & 25: The minimum concentrations for certolizumab pegol at week 6 should be greater than 32 μg/mL and 15 μg/mL during maintenance.
  • Golimumab 26 & 27: The minimum drug concentration at week 6 for golimumab should at least be 2.5 μg/mL and 1 μg/mL.during maintenance

My take: This article provides extensive literature to reinforce their recommendations.  Most of the trough levels mentioned are minimum levels that need to be achieved.


Can Therapeutic Drug Monitoring with Monotherapy Achieve Similar Results as Combination Therapy for IBD?

A recent retrospective study (S Lega et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2019; 25: 134-41) suggests that proactive therapeutic drug monitoring (pTDM) with infliximab (IFX) helps achieve similar outcomes as combination therapy (with immunomodulator) in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

Before reviewing the key findings, it is important to emphasize a few crucial limitations/methods:

  • The study enrolled 83 patients; only 16 received were in the monotherapy pTDM group.
  • This was a retrospective study
  • The authors utilized TDM at week 10. (week 10 infliximab level). If the IFX level was <20 mcg/mL, the dose and frequency of infliximab were both adjusted. If the level was between 20 & 25, either the frequency was adjusted or no adjustment, and if the level was >25, then no adjustment in dosing was performed.

Key findings:

  • The frequency of infliximab discontinuation with mono therapy in those with pTDM was lower than in those with ‘standard of care’ TDM (P=0.04) but did not differ from patients receiving combination therapy
  • Overall 9 of the 83 patients (11%) discontinued IFX during the 1-year study

In the discussion, the authors suggest that week 14 TDM may be suboptimal as this is the first time patients have an 8-week interval.

My take: The jury is out with regard to whether pTDM can negate the need for combination therapy  –a prospective trial is needed; however, the idea of getting TDM a bit earlier is intriguing, particularly as it has been shown that a high percentage of pediatric patients are receiving an insufficient dose of infliximab (Is Standard Infliximab Dose Tool Low in Pediatrics?)

Key words: 10 weeks, therapeutic drug monitoring, infliximab, trough

Related blog posts:

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.

View from Artist’s Drive, Death Valley

Is There Good Evidence for Proactive Drug Monitoring of Anti-TNF Therapy?

A recent clinical review (X Roblin et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2018; 24: 1904-9) examines the utility of proactive drug monitoring of anti-TNF therapy in inflammatory bowel disease.

The authors note that several observational trials suggested that proactive drug monitoring would help optimize the effect of anti-TNF therapy, especially infliximab. However, two randomized controlled clinical trials, TAXIT (n=273) and TAILORIX (n=122), were not able to show long-term benefit from proactive therapeutic monitoring.

At the same time, the authors note that a recent trial (Ungar B et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2016; 14: 550-7, e2) has shown that infliximab trough levels >5 mcg/mL and adalimumab levels >7.2 mcg/mL identified mucosal healing with 85% specificity. Higher cutoffs showed only minimal further increase in mucosal healing rates.

My take: To this point, controlled trials have not shown that proactive drug monitoring of anti-TNF therapy is beneficial; this review explains the design and limitations of these studies.  My personal view is that more studies are needed to know if proactive drug monitoring is worthwhile.  Proactive drug monitoring may be more useful in children/adolescents than adults due to much greater variation in size and dosing.

A recent commentary on therapeutic drug monitoring (from KT Park Twitter Feed): Therapeutic Targets in IBD

Related blog posts:


Moraine Lake, Banff


NASPGHAN Postgraduate Course 2017 (Part 4): Therapeutic drug monitoring, Anti-TNF management, Postoperative Crohn’s disease

This blog entry has abbreviated/summarized these presentations. Though not intentional, some important material is likely to have been omitted; in addition, transcription errors are possible as well.

Here is a link to postgraduate course syllabus: NASPGHAN PG Syllabus – 2017

Therapeutic Drug Monitoring

Andrew Grossman  Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

The topic of therapeutic drug monitoring, both reactive and proactive, has been discussed numerous times on this blog.  This talk provided a good review of this topic.

Key points:

  • Greatest predictor of infliximab treatment failure was a low infliximab (<0.9 mcg/mL at anytime or <2.2 mcg/mL at 14 weeks) (Castelle et al Am J Gastro 2013; 108: 962-71)
  • Low level antibodies to infliximab may be transient in ~28% and may be overcome with escalation of therapy
  • Tissue levels of infliximab (and other agents) may be inadequate despite good serum levels

What if anti-TNF fails

Maria Oliva-Hemker   Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Key points:

  • Discussed prevalence of problem with anti-TNF failures and main options: vedolizumab, ustekinumab, and surgery
  • Vedolizumab can take a while to work, particularly for Crohn’s disease
  • Limited data in pediatrics for these newer agents
  • Ustekinumab has some preliminary data indicating benefit with anti-TNF induced psoriaform rashes
  • Newer agents also likely to need therapeutic drug monitoring
  • Overall, ustekinumab and vedolizumab have good safety profiles at this point


Prevention of postoperative Crohn’s disease

Miguel Regueiro   University of Pittsburgh

  • Rationale for postoperative preventative treatment: high rate of recurrent disease which can be silent for several years despite progressive damage to GI tract
  • Large study (PREVENT) to compare infliximab and placebo after surgery.  Primary endpoint was clinical recurrence (was endpoint demanded by FDA) even though clinical recurrence can be a late finding.  Endoscopic recurrence rate was a secondary endpoint.

Dr. Regueiro’s approach

  • Low risk patient –repeat scope at 6 months post-op, then every 1-3 yrs if no disease and Rx with anti-TNF or immunomodulator in those with endoscopic recurrence
  • Moderate risk patient -possible use of thiopurine or use the ‘low risk’ approach
  • High risk patient-combination therapy and if doing well for several years, consider monotherapy
  • In pediatrics, the postoperative management is unclear due to difficulty with risk stratification.  If postoperative treatment is not given, consider colonoscopy 3-4 months afterwards and treat if recurrence.  Then could use calprotectin every 3 months to monitor and when >50, likely will need to be treated

PREVENT Trial Data: