Pediatric Home and Office Biologic Infusions -What is Needed

A recent clinical report (E Barfield et al. JPGN 2018; 66: 680-86) will be influential.  This guideline is from the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition.  Congratulations to my partner, Chelly Dykes, who is one of the coauthors.

Full textAssuring Quality for Non-Hospital Based Biologic Infusions in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Clinical Report from the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

For many years, our office has had an office-based infusion center which has provided infusions in a safe and cost-effective manner.  Recently, there have been some situations in which home-based infusions have been proposed either to lower costs and/or for convenience.  This report succinctly describes the hurdles that need to be addressed before recommending this treatment pathway. As noted below, patient safety encompasses a great deal more than infusion reactions. Delays in infusions (which can increase risk of loss of response) due to reactions and lapses in communication are additional issues.

Recommendation 1: Home- or office-based infusions should ensure safe administration of the biologic infusion, provide reliable execution of infusion-related orders (eg, laboratories for therapeutic drug monitoring, dose optimization protocols, etc), and be equipped to recognize and respond to potential complications.

  • Infusion reactions:  ” Infusion reactions associated with infliximab and vedolizumab can range from mild reactions such as fever and chills, dyspnea, pruritus, or urticaria (in approximately 5%–10%), to severe reactions including anaphylaxis, convulsions, and hypotension (<1%)”
  • Emergencies: “In the event of an urgent or emergent reaction during home- or office-based infusions, the in-home services agency (IHSA) nurse needs to be able to contact the appropriate ordering medical team member expeditiously by phone or pager to review/clarify specific concerns or needs to have an established clear policy on how to proceed with managing the reaction.” 
  • Communication: “We identified the lack or inconsistency of on-call coverage by the primary medical team when home- or office-based infusions occur as a significant barrier to safely initiating or continuing home- or office-based infusion programs. Difficulty in reaching a knowledgeable team member is a breach in reliable care and represents serious patient risk.”
  • Related work: “In addition to administering the biologic infusion, executing all other infusion-related orders is an important safety consideration. Implementing unique home infusion protocols is linked to treatment efficacy.”  

Recommendation 2: Pediatric home- or office-based infusions, particularly for patients 12 years and younger, should be staffed by a pediatric nurse professional with Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) certification and clinical experience with pediatric patients.

Recommendation 3: Evidence-based standard of care for biologic therapy maximizing effectiveness and treatment sustainability should be established before initiating home or office-based infusions.

Recommendation 4: Home- or office-based infusion pathways that decrease opportunity loss for patients and families and deliver high-quality, patient-centered care should be supported and reproduced.

Recommendation 5: Pediatric gastroenterologists should ensure appropriate shared liability with IHSAs to deliver high-quality care in home-based infusions for children by executing pragmatic steps as outlined below:

  1. “Document discussion with the patient and family about the indication, risks, and adverse event management …
  2. Refer the patient to an accredited, licensed IHSA based on patient’s insurance coverage. If no accredited, licensed IHSA for the pediatric patient exists, this is grounds for not initiating home- or office-based infusions…
  3. & 4. Use an infusion protocol… with clear directives on recognition of signs/symptoms of reactions and administration of reaction medications and use of EMS or parent transport to an emergency room.
  4. Maintain accurate documentation and communication of therapy type, dose, and frequency.
  5. Provide a reliable communication mechanism for the IHSA to notify provider of changes or infusion-related events
  6. Regularly reviewing ongoing IHSA performance with regard to delivery of services, accurate laboratory ordering and turnaround time, safety and quality concerns and timely redressal of these issues.
  7. Switch to another IHSA if the performance reliability is unsatisfactory. …we acknowledge that changing IHSAs may be difficult.”

Recommendation 6: A more equitable division of labor should be established to offset increased administrative burden placed on the pediatric gastroenterologist and medical team to effectively facilitate and maintain home- or office-based infusions, especially when driven by payer-mandated policies.

Recommendation 7: …Among patients receiving home- or office-based infusions, unreliable follow-up care with the provider as scheduled is grounds for discontinuation of home- or office-based biologic therapy.

Recommendation 8: A proper appeals process should be in place to prevent cost transference from payer to patient in payer-mandated decisions for home- or office-based infusions.

Our office practice:

  • Emergencies: In our office, there is always one physician dedicated to being available to assess patients who are receiving infusions.  This helps insure safety and in addition, helps to make sure that minor medical problems do not needlessly postpone important treatment.
  • Documentation: With our office-based infusions, each infusion is documented by the administering nurse.  This documentation along with labs are embedded in the medical record (EPIC) to help modify treatment.
  • Communication: In our office, prior to each infusion, each patient’s chart is reviewed and specific orders are given.  This assures that needed blood tests/imaging, additional treatments (eg. iron infusion), insurance authorizations, necessary followup, and personalized adjustments are made.  This type of communication needs to be replicated for home-based infusions; hence, the use of home-based infusions could result in a huge increase in uncompensated work for the treating physician.

My take: In my experience, office-based infusions can be provided safely and in a cost-effective manner.  While the convenience of home-based infusion is desirable, before implementing broadly, issues regarding communication, safety protocols, and documentation to allow modifications in therapy need to be proactively addressed. Families may not realize some of the complexities involved in managing infusions and how these issues could affect their child’s long-term response to biologic therapy.

Related blog posts:

The following image relates to another convenience-related health trend:

Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

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Interchangeability, Immunogenecity and Infliximab Biosimilars

A recent study (G Fiorino et al. IBD 2018; 24: 601-6, editorial by KH Katsanos et al 465-6) provides more data on “full interchangeability” in regards to infliximab (IFX) and biosimilars CT-P13 and SB2. Full abstract below.

Key finding in study:

  • Antibodies to infliximab (ATI) cross-reacted with any type of IFX or IFX-biosimilar

Points from the editorial:

  • “The landmark NOR-SWITCH randomized controlled trial showed that 1-time switching from RMC [Remicade] to CT-P13 is not inferior to continued treatment with the infliximab originator…there are no data regarding multiple switches…Consequently, cross-switching (switching between 2 biosimilars), reverse switching (switching from biosimilar to its originator) or multiple/repeated switching is not currently recommended.”
  • This study, however, shows that “if you have already developed antibodies to 1 infliximab product, there is no point in switching to another infliximab product.”

Abstract:

BackgroundInfliximab (IFX) biosimilars CT-P13 and SB2 have comparable efficacy, safety, and immunogenicity to the originator Remicade (RMC). However, concerns about cross-switching patients between the 3 brands were raised in the absence of cross reactivity data between them. We aimed to determine whether antibodies to infliximab (ATI) in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients cross-react with RMC, CT-P13, and SB2.

MethodsBased on previous ATI status, samples from 34 patients participating in the BIOSIM01 study (13 RMC, 9 CT-P13, and 12 switchers) were selected. Patients were treated with either RMC only, or CT-P13 only, or with RMC switched to CT-P13. Additionally, 28 IFX-naïve patients were assayed as controls. In total, 180 samples were analyzed. ATI trough levels were measured in parallel with 3 different bridging Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assays constructed using the 3 drugs. Spearman’s coefficient and percentages of agreement were used to study the correlation between each assay.

ResultsIn total, 76 samples out of 152 IFX-treated patient samples were ATI-positive (30 RMC, 14 CT-P13, and 32 switchers). All resulted ATI-positive when either CT-P13 or SB2 bridging assays were used. The overall percentage of agreement was 100% when compared either with CT-P13 or SB2 assays. No significant differences were found among ATI levels and coefficients (Spearman’s 0.98 to 1.0, P < 0.0001).

ConclusionsATI of RMC-treated, CT-P13-treated or RMC to CT-P13 switched patients show full cross-reactivity with CT-P13 and SB2. Findings suggest that immunodominant epitopes in the reference and CT-P13 drugs are equally present in SB2. Data support full interchangeability between biosimilars in regard to immunogenicity.

My take: In patients doing well with IFX, switching to a biosimilar is not currently recommended.  In patients naive to IFX, use of IFX or biosimilar is expected to have similar efficacy.

Related study: B Kang et al. IBD 2018; 24: 607-16.  This prospective study of 36 pediatric patients did not identify any significant differences in efficacy…or immunogenicity after switching from IFX to CT-P13.

Related blog posts:

Autoimmune Hepatitis Associated with Anti-TNF Therapy

A recent study (A Ricciuto et al. J Pediatr 2018; 194: 128-35) identified an index case of autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) associated with anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) therapy and reviewed liver biochemistries in a cohort of 659 children.

Key findings:

  • In the index case, features of autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) on liver biopsy were noted 23 weeks after starting infliximab.   These findings resolved entirely within 4 months after withdrawal of infliximab
  • Overall, 7.7% of cohort had elevations of ALT while receiving anti-TNF therapy.  Most were mild and attributable to other causes than drug toxicity. No other cases of AIH were identified.

The authors recommend a careful investigation in those with elevations >2-3 times ULN which persists >3 months. Livertox (NIH) website notes the following for infliximab:

“The liver injury caused by infliximab is usually mild and rapidly reversed once therapy is stopped.  However, fatal instances of HBV reactivation and induction of autoimmune hepatitis due to infliximab have been reported, and regular monitoring of patients early during the course of infliximab is recommended.”

My take: Serious liver injury related to anti-TNF therapy is rare. A great place to understand the spectrum of liver problems potentially related to infliximab is the livertox website:

Related blog entries:

AIH:

Views from inside Hoover Dam, including Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge

Increasing Cost/Use of Biologic Therapies for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

As noted in a previous blog post (Changes in the Use of IBD Biologic Therapy), there has been an increased use of biologic therapy early in the course of patient’s with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Another retrospective study (H Yu et al AP&T 2018; 47: 364-70 -thanks to Ben Gold for this reference) examines the market share and costs of biologic therapy for IBD using the Truven Marketscan Commercial Claims and Encounters database (2007-2015).  This database consists of out-patient and in-patient pharmaceutical claims of approximately 40-50 million privately insured patients each year from patients from all 50 states (U.S.).

Key findings:

  • Among 415,405 patients with IBD (188,842 with Crohn’s, 195,183 with ulcerative colitis, 31,380 with indeterminate IBD), the proportion using biologics increased over the 9-year period (2007-2015); overall, the market share increase was from 7.1% (2007) to 20.5% (2015).
  • There were 28,797 pediatric patients with IBD (17,296 with Crohn’s, 9368 with ulcerative colitis, and 2133 with indeterminate colitis). The overall market share in pediatric patients was the highest, increasing from 19.1% to 45.9%.
  • For all patients with Crohn’s disease (CD) the proportion receiving biologic therapy increased from 21.8% to 43.8%.  For patients with ulcerative colitis (UC), the proportion increased from 5.1% to 16.2%.
  • Per-member per-year (PMPY) costs increased. “The average biologic-taking patient accounted for $25,275 PMPY in 2007 and $36,051 PMPY in 2015.”  This was similar in the pediatric population, going from $23,616 PMPY in 2007 to $41,109 PMPY in 2015.
  • The share of costs of medicines: the costs of biologics as a share of the total increased from 72.9% in 2007 to 85.7% in 2015. 95% of the pharmacy costs in children with IBD are attributed to biologics.

My take: This trend of increasing use of biologics and their associated costs is going to continue due to their effectiveness. While there are direct costs related to these medications, the net cost is unclear as they can prevent hospitalizations and surgeries. In addition, by helping to spare corticosteroids and increasing response rates, biologic therapies improve quality of life, minimize opportunity loss, and optimize long-term health outcomes.

Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon

 

Costs of Biologics for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

A recent study examines the market share and costs of biologic therapies for inflammatory bowel disease:

Excerpt from abstract:

The average biologic-taking patient accounted for $25 275 PMPY in 2007 and $36 051 PMPY in 2015. The average paediatric biologic-taking patient accounted for $23 616 PMPY in 2007 and $41 109 PMPY in 2015. In all patients, the share of costs for biologics increased from 72.9% in 2007 to 85.7% in 2015 (81.7% in 2007 to 94.9% in 2015 in paediatrics).

Conclusion

The vast majority of costs allocated to out-patient IBD medications in the USA is attributed to increasing use of biologic therapies despite the relative minority of biologic-taking patients.

My take: Biologic therapies are costly but also very effective.

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Liver Articles: Short Takes

DBE van Wessel et al. JPGN 2017; 65: 370-74.  This retrospective study showed an increase in biliary atresia incidence in preterm infants compared with full-term: 1.06 per 10,000 compared with 0.52/10,000. In addition, 4-year transplant-free survival rates were significantly worse at 21%, whereas 4-year survival rates was 61%. Clearance of jaundice (with Kasai) was achieved in only 23%.

Related post: Biliary Atresia More Common in Preterm Infants

ES Björnsson et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2017; 15: 1635-36. This study examined response to steroids in 18 patients with drug-induced autoimmune hepatitisKey findings: 14 patients had elevated antinuclear antibodies & there were none with elevated smooth muscle antibodies. Infliximab was most frequent agent (n=11) and nitrofurantoin was other frequent agent (n=3).  Overall, 40% improved after discontinuation of medication, the remainder had prompt responses to corticosteroids.  Relapse did not occur when corticosteroids were discontinued.  Among the infliximab group, there was no evidence of liver injury after transitioning to alternative tumor necrosis factor-α inhibitor.

M Balwani et al. Hepatology 2017; 66: 1314-22. Acute Hepatic Porphyrias -Review. Current recommendations include gene sequencing to confirm all biochemical cases. Biochemical tests are spot urine testing of porphobilinogen (PBG), 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA), and porphyrins. A normal urine PBG in symptomatic patients “excludes the three most common acute hepatic porphyrias.”  For those with abnormal studies, this reference is a handy.

S Wirth et al. Hepatology 2017; 66: 1102-10.  This study examined the effectiveness of sofosbuvir and weigh-based ribavirin dosing in 12-17 year olds with genotype 2 & 3 Hepatitis C infection.  Duration of treatment was 12 weeks for genotype 2 and 24 weeks for type 3.  Overall, SVR12 was achieved in 51 of 52 (98%); one patient with genotype 3 did not achieve SVR12.

Related post: New HCV Treatment Effective in Adolescents (Genotype 1 study)

F Kanwal et al. Gastroenterol 2017; 153: 996-1005. This study, a retrospective cohort of 22,500 VA patients treated for hepatitis C infection, showed that direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) lowered, but did not eliminate, the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Among the 87% who achieved an SVR, the adjusted hazard ratio for HCC was 0.28.  This was true as well as among patients with cirrhosis.. Hazard ratio for those with compensated cirrhosis was 0.32 compared with 0.18 among those without cirrhosis.

Three Studies Show the Benefit of Concomitant Therapy for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Part 2)

Continued from yesterday…

The third study (HM Kansen et al. JPGN 2017; 65: 425-29) retrospectively (2009-2014) examined 162 children (with available data) with Crohn’s disease (CD) for the development of anti-infliximab antibody (ATI) while receiving either monotherapy or concomitant therapy. This was a collaborative study from the Kids with Crohn’s Colitis (KiCC) working group (Netherlands).  In the majority of their patients (222 of 229), IFX was initiated as step-up therapy. Key findings:

  • 15% developed ATIs
  • 6 of 62 (10%) developed ATIs while receiving ongoing concomitant immunosuppression
  • 11 of 81 (14%) developed ATIs after receiving early concomitant immunosuppression (median of 6.2 months of concomitant immunosuppression followed by IFX monotherapy) 10 of 11 who developed ATIs  within the first 12 months, compared to 1 of 26 (4%) after 12 months.
  • 8 of 19 (42%) developed ATIs on IFX monotherapy

In their discussion, the authors note concerns regarding the safety of thiopurines. However, they point out that “the benefit of combination therapy (reduction of ATI formation) relative to IFX monotherapy should outweigh the risk of serious infections and malignancies to achieve an optimal treatment strategy for paediatric CD.” The authors: “combination therapy for approximately 12 months from initiation of IFX, followed by IFX monotherapy, may be equally effective alternative to continuous combination therapy.”

Overall, the totality of the evidence favors combination therapy for most patients with CD.  Yet, there is wide variation in clinical practice. As I was thinking about this, I came across a recent commentary: “The Power of Regret” (J Groopman, P Hartzband. NEJM 2017; 377: 1507-9).  The authors note that “disappointment is an unavoidable aspect of making difficult choices…but disappointment is not associated with self-recrimination and thus differs notably from regret.”  They indicate that “process regret” occurs when patients do not consider information about all available choices before making a decision.  I wonder if many patients/families fear using concomitant therapy because they worry they will regret the decision if a complication occurs.  Perhaps, working with all available information, some reluctant patients/families will feel better about their decision if the process for their decision was thorough, considering the risks/benefits of the treatment but also the risks/benefits of not choosing the treatment. .

My take: Overall, for most pediatric patients with CD, to date, concomitant therapy has been the most effective treatment.  More prospective studies are needed to determine more conclusively the benefit and optimal duration/timing of combined therapy, particularly with the more frequent use of therapeutic drug monitoring. Also, as will be noted in future posts from annual meeting, thiopurine use is declining.

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