The high cost of infliximab inhibits the regular retreatment of all patients in Hungary with Crohn's disease (CD) after beneficial induction therapy. This study is set out to evaluate the medium-term efficacy of induction therapy with infliximab without retreatment in CD patients with chronic activity and/or fistulae refractory to conventional therapy.
Methods: A retrospective 1-year review was undertaken of all CD patients with successfully induced remission or fistula closure with 3 infusions of infliximab. Infliximab was administered in a dose of 5 mg/kg 3 times, in weeks 0, 2 and 6. Clinical remission was defined as symptom resolution and an estimated Crohn's Disease Activity Index (CDAI) < 150 and complete fistula closure. We evaluated the clinical response, the estimated CDAI, the number of draining fistulae, the dosages of steroid and immunosuppressive drugs at 6 and 12 months after the last infusion, and the needs for hospitalization and surgical intervention during this period. Breslow (Generalized Wilcoxon) test was used as the statistical method.
Results: The data of the 50 patients (19 luminal, 31 fistulizing disease; average age 29. 3 [13–59] years, disease localization: 23 colon, 13 ileum, 13 ileocolon, 1 duodenum) were suitable for analysis. Infliximab induction therapy without retreatment resulted in a beneficial effect lasting for at least 1 year in 22 of the 50 patients (44%). 11 of the 19 patients (57.9%) with luminal disease remained in steroid-free complete remission, while the fistulae persisted closed in only 11 of the 31 patients (35.5%) (p < 0.05).
Conclusion: Infliximab induction therapy alone may result in sustained remission mainly in patients with luminal disease. These results suggest the need for maintenance therapy with infliximab after successful therapy induction in patients with fistulae, while luminal CD patients could possibly participate in regular retreatment only if needed. If these data are confirmed, this modification of the therapeutic procedure could well increase the cost-effectiveness of infliximab.