Austrian infliximab experience in Crohn's disease
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OBJECTIVE: To determine the nationwide experience with infliximab for the treatment of Crohn's disease in Austria. DESIGN: National multicentre retrospective postal questionnaire survey. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: All institutions using infliximab for Crohn's disease in the years 1999 and 2000 were identified by the registry of the local provider of this drug. OUTCOME MEASURES: Response after first treatment course according to physician global assessment, number of subsequent infliximab infusions, disease activity at end of follow-up, avoidance of steroids, frequency of surgery for Crohn's disease, and adverse events. RESULTS: Questionnaires were returned by 32/35 (91%) centres approached. A total of 748 infusions were administered to 153 patients. After the first treatment course an excellent or good response occurred in 48/58 (83%) patients with luminal disease, and in 67/95 (71%) patients with fistulous disease (P < 0.05). After the first treatment course 108 (71%) patients received further infliximab therapy. At a mean follow-up of 29 months, 50% of patients had improved since baseline without requiring surgery for Crohn's disease. Steroid withdrawal was achieved in 25% of patients. Surgery had been performed in one-third of patients and was associated with lacking response to the first treatment course (P < 0.001) and with fistulous disease (P = 0.012). Co-medication with azathioprine favoured the initial response and steroid withdrawal (P < 0.05). One patient died from myocarditis; other adverse events were consistent with that seen in other studies of infliximab. CONCLUSIONS: The Austrian experience with infliximab for Crohn's disease is in general accordance with results from clinical trials and post-marketing studies from single centres. A substantial subgroup of patients appear to have a prolonged benefit from infliximab therapy.
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