From the Journals

Vedolizumab, tofacitinib induced rapid improvements in IBD symptoms



Two recent studies highlight the ability of vedolizumab and tofacitinib to rapidly improve symptoms reported by patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

In a post hoc study of 1,758 patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) or Crohn’s disease (CD) in the phase 3 GEMINI trials, 2 weeks of vedolizumab (Entyvio) therapy effectively improved patient-reported outcomes, and these continued to improve through 6 weeks of treatment, wrote Brian G. Feagan, MD, and his associates in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Among UC patients who had not previously received tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antagonist therapy, 22% of vedolizumab recipients, compared with only 7% of placebo recipients, achieved complete resolution of rectal bleeding together with a meaningful reduction in stool frequency at treatment week 2, the investigators noted. Among CD patients who were naive to TNF antagonists, 15% reported meaningful decreases in abdominal pain and loose stools at treatment week 2, compared with only 8% of placebo recipients.

Although 2 weeks of vedolizumab also topped placebo for improving patient-reported outcomes among TNF antagonist–exposed patients, the effects were less pronounced, wrote Dr. Feagan, of the University of Western Ontario, London, and his associates. “These data add to the growing evidence that second-generation biologics, such as vedolizumab and ustekinumab, have higher efficacy in TNF antagonist–naive patients in both clinical trials and real-world settings. Recent trends in clinical practice are moving toward incorporating disease-modifying therapy earlier in the treatment of IBD to prevent disease progression and cumulative bowel damage; hence, the importance of evaluating the treatment effects of vedolizumab in biologic-naive patients.”

Patient-reported outcomes have become key during both clinical research and regulatory review of claims on proposed drug labels. In the second study, also published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Stephen B. Hanauer, MD, of Northwestern University, Chicago, and his associates performed a post hoc analysis of symptoms reported by 1,139 adults with UC who received the oral small-molecule Janus kinase inhibitor tofacitinib (10 g twice daily) or placebo during the 8-week OCTAVE Induction 1 and 2 trials. These were identical phase 3 studies of patients with moderate to severe UC who could not tolerate or had responded inadequately to TNF antagonists, corticosteroids, or thiopurines.

Compared with placebo, 3 days of tofacitinib therapy induced significantly greater reductions from baseline in patient-reported stool frequency and rectal bleeding (P less than .01 for each measure), Dr. Hanauer and his associates reported. The effect was independent of prior treatment for UC or baseline levels of C-reactive protein. These findings reflect the rapid onset of effect of tofacitinib therapy in patients with UC. In contrast, thiopurines (azathioprine and 6-mercaptopurine) can take at least 8 weeks to exhibit steroid-sparing effects.

While corticosteroids can induce UC remission within 5 days, their side effects tend to escalate over time and they “lack maintenance benefits,” the researchers wrote. “In these analyses, onset of tofacitinib efficacy occurred within 3 days, irrespective of concomitant corticosteroid use or prior anti-TNF treatment failure.”

Takeda funded the GEMINI studies. Dr. Feagan reported advisory relationships with Takeda, AbbVie, Amgen, AstraZeneca, and several other pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Hanauer also reported ties to numerous pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, which funded the OCTAVE trials.

SOURCES: Feagan BG et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2018 May 29. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2018.05.026; Hanauer S et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2018 Jul 15. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2018.07.009.

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