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Biologics valuable treatment option for patients with inflammatory bowel disease

The use of biologic agents for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may benefit patients, but doctors need to consider the potential associated side effects in determining treatment course, according to a consensus paper published in this month’s issue of Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute. IBD includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both frequently disabling diseases that affect approximately one million people both in the U.S. and Europe.

The conference examined the literature on monoclonal antibodies or antibody fragments currently approved by the FDA or likely to be approved in the near future. The participants of the Consensus Development Conference, medical experts in IBD convened by the AGA Institute, sought to answer a series of questions about the treatment of IBD with these biologics based on expert presentations of current scientific knowledge about IBD and subsequent discussion. Co-chairs of the conference were Stephen B. Hanauer, MD, professor of medicine and clinical pharmacology at the University of Chicago, and Paul Rutgeerts, MD, AGAF, professor of medicine, University Hospital Gasthuisberg, Belgium.

“The management of inflammatory bowel disease has been significantly affected by the development of biologic therapies,” according to Dr. Hanauer. “Biologic therapies provide new options and hope for many patients, however they may be accompanied by serious side effects, both when used alone or in combination with other treatments. Gastroenterologists need to review and consider the side effects and significant costs when determining the best treatment course for their patients.”

The treatment goal for IBD patients has been to alleviate symptoms associated with these diseases and many gastroenterologists rely on a “step up” or sequential treatment approach in treating their patients depending on the severity of their disease. Resea
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