Ustekinumab is a drug designed to mimic normal human molecules, and for this reason is called a ‘biological’ drug. Results of a large well-conducted trial found that it is significantly better than placebo at inducing and maintaining remission in patients with moderate to severely active Crohn’s disease.
Interestingly, about 34% of patients who had failed earlier treatment with other biological agents (e.g. infliximab or adalimumab) improved within 6 weeks of a single injection of ustekinumab. In those patients who had not previously been treated with a biological agent, about 55% of them improved by week 6. Further doses were given to the patients that responded well to this treatment and about 53% of them remained in clinical remission for the duration of the study (44 weeks). Importantly, it was well-tolerated in all patients with no greater ‘adverse events rates’ than placebo.
The drug is not yet available in the NHS but is being appraised by NICE in 2017. For more information about this new treatment option, please do not hesitate to contact Dr Harris.