Ulcerative colitis patients not satisfied with current treatments according to new study

Patients with a serious type of inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, are not satisfied with their current treatments and the majority do not have their disease under control, according to new research released today at the 9th Congress of the European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation (ECCO) in Copenhagen.  The majority (87.2 per cent) of the 250 patients with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis who were being treated with standard therapies failed to achieve control of their disease – defined either as going into remission or not having needed to use corticosteroid medications in the previous two months.1

The new findings from the Ulcerative Colitis Condition, Attitude, Resources and Educational Study (UC CARES) study across 11 European countries, including the United Kingdom, showed that nearly half (46.8 percent) of patients reported not being satisfied with their current therapy for treating the painful and challenging symptoms of their ulcerative colitis.1

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), that causes inflammation and ulceration in the inner lining of the large intestine (colon) or rectum (proctitis).2 The most common symptoms of UC include abdominal pain and bloody diarrhoea. Patients also may experience fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite and rectal bleeding.2

Standard therapies, such as corticosteroids, aminosalicylates and thiopurines, are commonly prescribed for moderate-to-severe UC. However, the use of these therapies varies in clinical practice and it is unknown whether the disease is well controlled; few studies have comprehensively evaluated their effectiveness in disease control in real-world clinical practice.

UC CARES was designed to assess the level of unmet needs in disease control and treatment satisfactions among patients with moderate to severe UC receiving standard treatments such as corticosteroids, aminosalicylates (5-ASA), and thiopurine immunomodulators (AZA and 6-MP), but who were not previously treated with biologics.1 These newer therapies work by blocking tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, a protein that when overproduced in the body plays a key role in the inflammation associated with the disease.2 Currently, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines restrict use of biologic treatments to those patients who are at the acute severe end of the disease spectrum.3

About ulcerative colitis

Around 146,000 people in the UK suffer from ulcerative colitis,3 an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack healthy tissue and leads to inflammation and ulceration of the large intestine and rectum.2 Each year, between 6,000 and 12,000 people are diagnosed with the condition,4 with the peak age of diagnosis between the ages of 15 and 25 years, followed by a smaller peak between 55 and 65 years.3 When standard medications do not control the disease, surgery may be considered as an option to remove the affected colon (colectomy). About one in four people with UC will require surgery at some time during their illness and it is estimated that around 20 per cent will undergo a colectomy within 10 years of diagnosis.5,6


  1. ECCO 2014. Poster presentation.  Van Assche, G., et. al., Disease Control and Unmet Needs Among Moderate to Severe Ulcerative Colitis Patients Treated with Conventional Therapies in Europe: The UC Cares (Ulcerative Colitis Condition, Attitude, Resources and Educational Study) Study. 2014
  2. Crohn’s and Colitis UK. Ulcerative Colitis. Available at: www.nacc.org.uk/downloads/booklets/UlcerativeColitis.pdf. Accessed 6 February 2014.
  3. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.  Ulcerative colitis: Management in adults, children and young people. June 2013.  Available at: http://publications.nice.org.uk/ulcerative-colitis-cg166. Last accessed 12 February 2014.
  4. Crohn’s and Colitis UK.  Parents Need To Talk! Available at: http://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/Resources/CrohnsAndColitisUK/Documents/NACC_National_Parent_to_Parent_Service.pdf.  Last accessed 12 February 2014.
  5. Crohn’s and Colitis UK. Surgery for Ulcerative Colitis (UC). Available at: http://www.nacc.org.uk/downloads/factsheets/SurgeryForUC.pdf. Last accessed 12 February 2014
  6. Hefti, M.M. et al. Severity of Inflammation as a predictor of colectomy in patients with chronic ulcerative colitis. Dis Colon Rectum. 2009 February; 52(2): 193–197.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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