Patients who stop infliximab 12 months after they started are at higher risk of relapse if those patients earlier had ulcerative colitis.
Discontinuing infliximab can lead to a relapse in patients with ulcerative colitis.
Reporting at Digestive Disease Week 2016, researchers gave the results of a study of 161 ulcerative colitis patients from 12 centers in Europe and one in Israel.
All discontiued infliximab after 12 months and were then treated either with thiopurines, 5-ASA, thiopurines and 5-ASA, other therapies, or no therapy.
Another group of 69 patients continued on inflixmab.
Median follow-up was at 39 months.
Through 12 months after discontinuation, 28 of 92 patients (30.4%) had a disease flare-up compared to 6% in the control group.
In patients who started infliximab, clinical response and remission were 71.4% and 50% respectively.
At last follow-up, 41% of patiennts who discontinued infliximab vs. 21.5% in the control group had a flare-up.
Hospitalizations for ulcerative colitis were seen in 5% and 3% of patients respectively at last followup.
The team concluded "infliximab withdrawal for prolonged remission was associated with a higher risk for rleapse in UC patients,but not with adverse events, hospitalization of colectomy.
Restarting infliximab after discontinuation was effective in 71% of the paitents, and safe, they wrote.