Pipeline Medications for Ulcerative Colitis (Part 1) & Face Mask Shortages

Before getting to today’s post, I wanted to provide a link on why we are desperately short of face masks in the midst of this crisis: NY Times: How the World’s Richest Country Ran Out of a 75-Cent Face Mask

An excerpt:

The answer to why we’re running out of protective gear involves a very American set of capitalist pathologies — the rise and inevitable lure of low-cost overseas manufacturing, and a strategic failure, at the national level and in the health care industry, to consider seriously the cascading vulnerabilities that flowed from the incentives to reduce costs…

Given the vast global need for masks — in the United States alone, fighting the coronavirus will consume 3.5 billion face masks, according to an estimate by the Department of Health and Human Services — corporate generosity will fall short. People in the mask business say it will take a few months, at a minimum, to significantly expand production…

Hospitals began to run out of masks for the same reason that supermarkets ran out of toilet paper — because their “just-in-time” supply chains, which call for holding as little inventory as possible to meet demand, are built to optimize efficiency, not resiliency.

My take: Conserve, conserve, conserve PPE -supply chains meeting the need is NOT imminent.

—————

Several articles from Gastroenterology highlight emerging medications for ulcerative colitis (UC).

Two of the studies:

  • WJ Sandborn et al. Gastroenterol 2020; 158: 550-61.
  • WJ Sandborn et al. Gastroenterol 2020; 158: 562-72.

The first study was a phase 2 randomized trial of etrasimod which is an oral selective sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor modulator.  A total of 156 patients were randomized into 3 groups: placebo, 1 mg etrasimod, and 2 mg etrasimod.

Key findings (graphical abstract):

In the second phase 3, double-blind, double-dummy study, Sandborn et al show that, after the initial 2 intravenous doses,  among patients with an initial response subcutaneous vedolizumab (108 mg every 2 weeks) had similar effectiveness to intravenous vedolizumab (300 mg every 8 weeks); both SC and IV vedolizumab resulted in higher clinical remission rates compared to placebo at 52 weeks in the 216 patients: 46.2%, 42.6%, and 14.3% respectively.

Full text link: Efficacy and Safety of Vedolizumab Subcutaneous Formulation in a Randomized Trial of Patients With Ulcerative Colitis

Real-World Vedolizumab: Better Than Expected

Two recent studies indicate that vedolizumab is performing better than expected in the “real world.”

  • JL Koliani-Pace et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2019; 25: 1854-61
  • DM Faleck et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2019; 17: 2497-2505.

In the first study, the researchers used 2 data sets (VICTORY cohort, n=1087, & the Truven cohort, n=2574)  to compare vedolizumab in two separate eras; the early era was May 2014-June 2015  and the later era was July 2015-June 2017.

Key findings:

  • Patients with Crohn’s disease (CD) in the VICTORY cohort during the second era had better clinical remission rates: 40% vs 31% and better mucosal healing rates 58% vs 42%
  • Later era patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) in the Truven database had lower rates of IBD-related hospitalization (22.4% vs. 9.6%) and surgery (17.2% vs. 9.4%)
  • In the later era, patients were more likely to be biologic naive.

This study indicates that, overall, patients treated in the first era were likely more sick and less likely to respond to vedolizumab.  The authors’ note that this could be a ‘warehouse effect’ whereby “patients treated within the first year of a drug’s approval are likely representative of a select group of high-risk patients who are refractory to currently available therapies and are being warehoused on ineffective and undesirable therapies (ie. chronic steroid) to bridge them through until a promising agent is approved by the FDA.”

In the second study, the authors retrospectively examined 650 patients with CD and 437 with UC who were treated between 2014-16.  Patients who had a more recent diagnosis of CD (≤2 years) fared better than those with more long-standing disease.

Key findings:

  • Early-stage CD vs. later-stage CD clinical remission rates: 38% vs 23%
  • Early-stage CD vs. later-stage CD with corticosteroid-free remission: 43% vs 14%
  • Early-stage CD vs. later-stage CD with endoscopic remission: 29% vs. 13%
  • UC disease duration did not associate with response to vedolizumab

My take: Taken together, these studies indicate that vedolizumab in the real world may outperform the results of the landmark studies which helped garner FDA approval.  In patients who are less sick and have not been considered refractory to multiple treatments, response rates to vedolizumab are higher.

Related blog posts:

Highlights in IBD from Two 2019 Meetings: American College of Gastroenterology and United European Gastroenterology Week

Gastroenterology & Hepatology. December 2019 – Volume 15, Issue 12, Supplement 5

Excerpts from William Sandborn Commentary which are at the end of this supplement along with references:

Vedolizumab

In the VARSITY study (An Efficacy and Safety Study of Vedolizumab Intravenous [IV] Compared to Adalimumab Subcutaneous [SC] in Participants With Ulcerative Colitis), 769 patients with ulcerative colitis were randomized to a year of therapy with either adalimumab at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved dose or vedolizumab at the FDA-approved dose…This shows that the idea that vedolizumab (and anti-integrin therapy) is slower-acting than anti-TNF therapy is not correct, and that both of these classes of drugs can work fairly quickly in a number of patients.

Dr Brian Bressler and colleagues looked at the effectiveness of anti-TNF therapy in the real world when used second line after failing first-line biologic therapy with vedolizumab…The study conducted by Dr Bressler and colleagues, which included both Crohn’s disease patients and ulcerative colitis patients, found that the results were fairly similar whether patients received first-line biologic therapy with an anti-TNF agent or whether patients received first-line therapy with vedolizumab… It is generally thought that vedolizumab is a safer therapy than anti-TNF therapy, so with the finding from this study, a reasonable treatment approach could be to start with vedolizumab and see if it works

Dr Christina Chambers and colleagues identified outcomes for pregnancy in 223 women, 53 of whom received vedolizumab. The researchers found that there were no major structural birth defects reported in the vedolizumab group, compared to 5.7% and 5.3% in the disease-matched group and healthy control group, respectively. Thus, there seemed to be no signal for an increased malformation risk in patients who were undergoing treatment with vedolizumab and became pregnant.

Adalimumab

The SERENE trials are a set of head-to-head trials, one for ulcerative colitis and one for Crohn’s disease, comparing standard-dose adalimumab to a more intensive induction regimen of adalimumab…

For both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, the SERENE trials showed that the current FDA-approved dosing regimen is effective and that more intensive induction therapy does not improve outcomes over time. Thus, there is no utility in giving high induction doses. 

Tofacitinib

Over 1000 patients who had been treated with tofacitinib were examined…during induction and maintenance of the placebo-controlled portion of the tofacitinib clinical trials, there were a total of 5 deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary emboli events. All 5 occurred in patients who were receiving placebo; none of these events occurred in patients who were receiving tofacitinib…[And] There was a total of 5 deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary emboli events during this long-term extension…Looking at the ulcerative colitis clinical trial data that I presented, it is somewhat reassuring that we did not see the same elevation in risk for deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary emboli that was seen in the high-risk rheumatoid arthritis patient population.

Mont Royal (Montreal)

IBD Updates November 2019

M Lowenberg et al. Gastroenterol 2019; 157: 997-1006. This LOVE-CD study, a prospective study with 110 patients with active Crohn’s disease, found that treatment with vedolizumab resulted in 29% and 31% corticosteroid-free clinical remission at weeks 26 and 52 respectively (CDAI <150).  Endoscopic remission, based on intent-to-treat analysis, was 33% and 36% at weeks 26 and 52.  Serum vedolizumab levels above 10 mg/L at week 22 were associated with endoscopic remission at week 26.

S Danese et al. Gastroenterol 2019; 157: 1007-18.  This VERSIFY trial, a phase 3b, open-label, single-group study of 101 patients with Crohn’s disease, found that treatment with vedolizumab resulted in 11.9% and 17.9%  endoscopic remission at week 26 and 52 respectively. Remission by MRE was 21.9% and 38.1% at those respective time points. No notable safety issues were reported.

N Khan et al. Clin Gastroenterol 2019; 17: 2262-8. Using a retrospective cohort of 54,919 patients with IBD followed by the VA System (2000-2018), the authors identified 467 patients with incident squamous cell cancer (SCC); median age ~70 years.  11 patients with SCC died from related-complications.  In this group, 8 had been exposed to thiopurines.   Thus, exposure to thiopurines increased mortality related to SCC compared to those exposed to mesalamine therapy, though the absolute risk among the entire cohort was less than 1 in 5000.  My take: Long-term use of thiopurines should be paired with dermatology evaluation and good skin care.

Pics from Mechandise Mart Light Show, Chicago

#NASPGHAN19 Selected Abstracts (Part 2)

Link to full NASPGHAN 2019 Abstracts.

Here are some more abstracts/notes that I found interesting at this year’s NASPGHAN meeting.

A study (poster below) from Cincinnati found that a vedolizumab level ≥34.8 mcg/mL at week 6 (prior to 3rd infusion) predicted clinical response at 6 months

Related blog posts:

The poster below reported a high frequency of eosinophilic disorders in children who have undergone intestinal transplantation. Related blog post: Eosinophilic disease in children with intestinal failure

This study from Boston indicates that acid suppression was not associated with improved outcomes in infants with laryngomalacia (eg. lower supraglottoplasy rates or lower aspiration rates.

Related blog posts:

The study below showed that “less than half of children who started the low FODMAP diet were able to complete the elimination phase.” This indicates the need for careful dietary counseling when attempting this therapy.

Related blog posts:

The abstract below showed that the dietary intake of children with inflammatory bowel disease, who were not receiving enteral nutrition therapy, was similar to healthy control children.

The next two studies provide some pediatric experience with tofacitinib in teenagers with inflammatory bowel disease (14-18 years of age).  The first poster had 12 children and reported a 67% clinical response rate (cohort with 5 with CD, 5 with UC, and 2 with IC).  The second poster had 4 of 6 with a clinical response and 3 in remission.

Related blog posts -Tofacitinib:

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.

#NASPGHAN19 Postgraduate Course (Part 5)

Here are some selected slides and notes from this year’s NASPGHAN’s postrgraduate course.  There may be errors in omission or transcription on my part.

Link to the full NASPGHAN PG Syllabus 2019 (Borrowed with permission)

– Intestinal Inflammation Session

192 David T. Rubin, MD, University of Chicago Positioning the new IBD therapies: Merging experience with evidence

Some key points:

  • Ustekinumab escalation can increase response. Optimization in CD patients with loss of response led to recapture of response in 69% of patients
  • Tofacitinib –given black warning, will likely be used in more refractory patients
  • May be able retry a previous therapy (Chicago protocol in slide below)

As an aside, while Dr. Rubin is an excellent speaker, my view is that there are so many terrific pediatric IBD specialists, I would favor having a pediatric IBD specialist give this talk at our postgraduate course.  (Some might argue that adult IBD specialists would have more experience with emerging therapies.)

204 Anne Griffiths, MD, FRCPC, Hospital for Sick Children Immunosuppressive therapy in IBD: Can we de-escalate therapy?

  • High rate of relapse when biologic therapy is stopped.  Use of an immunomodulator may reduce the relapse rate when stopping an anti-TNF agent

215 Stacy Kahn, MD, Boston Children’s Hospital When it is not IBD … rare forms of intestinal inflammation

  • For patients with milder microscopic colitis, antidiarrheal agents can be given.  For more severe disease, budesonide is effective.

223 Edaire Cheng, MD, UT Southwestern Medical Center  Eosinophilic inflammation beyond the esophagus

 

Disclaimer: NASPGHAN/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. The discussion, views, and recommendations as to medical procedures, choice of drugs and drug dosages herein are the sole responsibility of the authors. Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the Society 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. Some of the slides reproduced in this syllabus contain animation in the power point version. This cannot be seen in the printed version.