Crohn's Disease

  • Medical Author: Adam Schoenfeld, MD
  • Medical Author: George Y. Wu, MD, PhD
  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

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Quick GuideCrohn's Disease Causes, Symptoms, Diet

Crohn's Disease Causes, Symptoms, Diet

Budesonide (Entocort EC)

Budesonide (Entocort EC) is a newer type of corticosteroid for treating Crohn's disease. Like other corticosteroids, budesonide is a potent anti-inflammatory medication. Unlike other corticosteroids, however, budesonide acts only via direct contact with the inflamed tissues (topically) and not systemically. As soon as budesonide is absorbed into the body, the liver converts it into inactive chemicals. Therefore, for effective treatment of Crohn's disease, budesonide, like topical 5-ASA, must be brought into direct contact with the inflamed intestinal tissue.

Budesonide capsules contain granules that allow a slow release of the drug into the ileum and the colon. In a double-blind multicenter study (published in 1998), 182 patients with Crohn's ileitis and/or Crohn's disease of the right colon were treated with either budesonide (9 mg daily) or Pentasa (2 grams twice daily). Budesonide was more effective than Pentasa in inducing remissions while the side effects were similar to Pentasa. In another study comparing the effectiveness of budesonide with corticosteroids, budesonide was not better than corticosteroids in treating Crohn's disease but had fewer side effects.

Because budesonide is broken down by the liver into inactive chemicals, it has fewer side effects than systemic corticosteroids. It also suppresses the adrenal glands less than systemic corticosteroids. Budesonide also is available as an enema for the treatment of proctitis.

Budesonide has not been shown to be effective in maintaining remission in patients with Crohn's disease. If used long-term, budesonide also may cause some of the same side effects as corticosteroids. Because of this, the use of budesonide should be limited to short-term treatment for inducing remission. As most budesonide is released in the terminal ileum, it will have its best results in Crohn's disease limited to the terminal ileum.

It is not known whether budesonide is effective in treating patients with ulcerative colitis, and it is currently not recommended for the treatment of ulcerative colitis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/4/2015

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