The findings of this subanalysis come from two phase 3 induction trials (U-EXCEL and U-EXCEED) and one maintenance study (U-ENDURE) of upadacitinib in this patient population.
“Upadacitinib shows large differences relative to placebo in endoscopic response and remission ... in a difficult-to-treat population of patients, the majority of whom had failed an advanced therapy,” lead investigator Brian Feagan, MD, senior scientific director of the GI contract research firm Alimentiv in London, Ontario, said in an interview.
“The absolute magnitude of the finding was unanticipated – a greater treatment effect than might be anticipated for these outcomes compared with other advanced treatments for Crohn’s disease in these higher-risk patients,” he said.
Dr. Feagan presented the research at the annual congress of the European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation.
At baseline, participants had an average daily stool frequency of 4 or more and/or an abdominal pain score of 2 or greater. They also had a Simple Endoscopic Score for Crohn’s disease of 6 or more, excluding a narrowing component, or a score of 4 or more for isolated ileal Crohn’s disease.
In the treatment induction phase, patients were randomly assigned 2:1, with 674 people receiving 45 mg upadacitinib and 347 taking a placebo once daily for 12 weeks.
Participants who experienced at least a 30% decrease in stool frequency and/or daily abdominal pain scores were enrolled in the maintenance phase of the study. For this phase, patients were randomly assigned again, with 168 receiving 30 mg upadacitinib, 169 receiving 15 mg upadacitinib, and 165 taking a placebo once daily for 52 weeks.
In each induction and maintenance cohort, more than 70% of patients had failed one prior biologic therapy, with failure defined as inadequate response or intolerance. Among those who failed a previous biologic in induction, 96% had also failed prior treatment with an anti–tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) inhibitor.
Participants’ mean age was 38-40 years, and 52%-55% were men. Patients who had not failed previous therapy had Crohn’s disease for a median of 6-7 years. In contrast, the prior-failure group had Crohn’s disease for a median of 9-10 years.
At 12 weeks, endoscopic response among patients who had not failed a prior biologic was 52% in the treatment group versus 16% of the placebo group. In the prior-failure group, endoscopic response was observed in 36% and 5%, respectively.
Endoscopic remission at 12 weeks among patients who had not failed a prior biologic was 36% in the treatment group versus 10% in the placebo group. In the prior-failure group, endoscopic remission was 20% in the treatment group versus 3% in those who took placebo.
Participants in the treatment groups of the 52-week maintenance phase of the study experienced higher endoscopic response and endoscopic remission rates compared with those who received placebo.
Endoscopic response in the group without prior biologic failure was 44% in the 30-mg upadacitinib group, 40% in the 15-mg group, and 18% in the placebo group. Among those with prior biologic failure, endoscopic response was seen in 39% of the 30-mg upadacitinib group, 23% of the 15-mg group, and 4% of the placebo group.
There is a “very striking difference in endoscopic response rates between the high dose and placebo,” Dr. Feagan said. “That difference here is in the response rate. You see dose separation.”
Endoscopic remission among those without prior biologic failure was observed in 34% of the 30-mg upadacitinib group, 27% of the 15-mg group, and 16% of the placebo group. Among those with prior biologic failure, endoscopic remission was seen in 27% of the 30-mg upadacitinib group, 16% of the 15-mg group, and 2% of the placebo group.
The results show “a clear advantage for the 30-mg dose versus the 15-mg in the maintenance component, especially in patients who had failed an advanced therapy,” Dr. Feagan said.