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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Three Studies Show Benefit of Concomitant Therapy for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Part 1)

In the first study (J Cheng et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2017; 23: 1762-73), the authors retrospectively reviewed 148 children (113 with Crohn’s disease, 35 with ulcerative colitis). 90 patients received concomitant therapy (infliximab with either a thiopurine [n=67], methotrexate [n=23]) and 58 received infliximab monotherapy. Key findings:

  • Concomitant therapy >6 months  significantly lowered the risk of secondary loss of response in Crohn’s disease (CD) (HR =0.39) compared to monotherapy.   A similar trend was noted with ulcerative colitis (UC) but did not reach statistical significance.
  • Steroid-free remission rates at 1 year were 78% for CD patients with concomitant therapy compared with 54% on monotherapy
  • Among primary nonresponders, 67% of CD patients and 75% of UC patients were receiving IFX monotherapy.
  • No differences in adverse events were evident between patients receiving monotherapy compared with concomitant therapy. One patient (receiving azathioprine) developed a follicular lymphoma; this patient was well 10 years later.

The second study (Y Qui et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2017; 15: 1359-72) was a systemic review of 35 studies that met the authors’ inclusion criteria. In total, 6790 patients with inflammatory bowel disease were enrolled in these studies. This study looked at multiple anit-TNF agents including infliximab, adalimumab, certolizumab, and golimumab. Key finding:

  • Antidrug antibodies were reduced by 51% in patients receiving concomitant therapy
  • Conclusion from authors: “concomitant use of immunomodulators should be considered in patients treated with anti-TNF 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.

More on this topic tomorrow.

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Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  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.

Top Anti-TNF for Ulcerative Colitis

A recent retrospective cohort study (S Singh et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2017; 15: 1218-25) compared infliximab and adalimumab in a nationwide Danish cohort of adults with ulcerative colitis (UC) from 2005-2014. The authors used propensity score and selected 171 patients who received infliximab (IFX) from a total of 1580 and 104 patients who received adalimumab (ADA) among a total of 139.

Key findings:

  • Patients who received ADA had higher hospitalization rates (HR 1.84) and a trend toward higher UC-related hospitalization (HR 1.71, CI 0.95-3.07) compared to IFX
  • Risk of abdominal surgery was not significantly higher in ADA patients (HR 1.35) compared to IFX
  • Serious infections were higher in ADA group, HR of 5.11 of needing hospitalization due to infections

There have been no randomized clinical trials  to determine if a specific anti-TNF agent is superior to another. In an associated editorial (MT Osterman, GR Lichtenstein, 1197-99), the authors note that while we don’t know which agent is superior, by comparing similar trials (ACT 1 & 2 for IFX and ULTRA 1 & 2 for ADA), “raw week 8 induction rates of clinical remission, clinical response, and mucosal healing are approximately 16%, 18%, and 19%, respectively, higher for infliximab”..”less dramatic differences favoring infliximab (approximately 9%, 13%, and 15%, respectively) are seen during maintenance at 1 year.”

My take: Due to the lack of randomized head-to-head studies, we do not know with certainty which anti-TNF is best for UC.  However, the data we have from retrospective cohort studies and from using raw data from prospective studies suggests that infliximab is effective in more patients.

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Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  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.

Biosimilars: “The Horse is Out of the Barn”

A recent study (J Sieczkowska-Golub et al. JPGN 2017; 65: 285-88) reports on 36 pediatric patients who received CT-P13, an infliximab biosimilar.  Key findings:

  • 34 of 36 (94.4%) completed induction therapy
  • Clinical response based on pCDAI was noted in 31 of 36 (86%)
  • Clinical remission based on pCDAI was noted in 24 of 36 (67%)

The authors concluded that the induction was effective and similar to the reference infliximab.

In the accompanying editorial, Dr. de Ridder and Dr. Winter make some crucial observations:

  • “Although the study…is important, the number of subjects in this study are low and follow-up is short (14 weeks).”
  • “It is still a large step from adults to children.” Children may have important differences in IBD pathogenesis and pharmocokinetics may not be the same as in adults.
  • The studies supporting CT-P13 (Planetas, Planetra, and NOR-SWITCH) were studies of adult patients.
  • “The data in children are scarce.” However, “the horse has already left the barn. In many European countries both naive pediatric patients with IBD and patients who have switched from the originator are treated with CT-P13.”
  • While “caution is still needed,” the lower costs of CT-P13 will “lead to wider availability.”

My take: We still have a lot to learn.  Until more studies are available, switching stable patients could increase risk of losing response.

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Pediatric Views on Biosimilars and Interchangeability

A recent commmentary (D Patel, KT Park. JPGN 2017; 134-6) explains the topic of interchangeability and its relationship to biosimlars. While biosimilars are expected to reduce the cost of biologic therapy, there are concerns regarding immunogenicity and whether switching to these products could reduce therapeutic sustainability.

The authors explain that some products are truly interchangeable and produce the same clinical result.  An interchangeable medicine (eg. typical generic) does not increase safety risk and switching from originator drug can be done by pharmacists or government payers without intervention of the prescribing health provider.

CT-P13 (Inflectra) has been approved as a biosimilar but has not been deemed an interchangeable product.  This is important.  Biosimilars “could have clinical consequences and repeated switches may increase immunogenicity.” Also, biosimilar products are much more complicated products than typical generic drugs.

Other key points:

  • The assumption that CT-P13 is interchangeable in pediatric IBD is “highly debatable.” Biosimilars undergo fewer studies than originator products.  CT-P13 has data from PLANETRA and PLANETAS trials “which may not be applicable for IBD, particularly pediatric IBD, given the inherent differences in disease pathophysiology.”
  • “No long-term, multiple-switch (eg. originator to biosimilar to originator) studies in pediatric or adult patients have been performed.”
  • “It is premature and possibly risky to assume that interchangeability will not cause differences in immunogenicity without long-term evidence in the pediatric population.” Pediatric patients likely have a “higher probability of developing autoantiantibodies” and need effective therapy for a longer duration.

My take: We still have a lot to learn.  Until more studies are available, switching stable patients could increase risk of losing response.

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