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Crohn's Disease Medications

There is no medication that can cure Crohn's disease. Patients with Crohn's disease typically will experience periods of relapse (worsening of inflammation) followed by periods of remission (lessening of inflammation) lasting months to years. During relapses, symptoms of abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding worsen. During remissions, these symptoms improve. Remissions usually occur because of treatment with medications or surgery, but occasionally they occur spontaneously without any treatment.

Since there is no cure for Crohn's disease, the goals of treatment are to 1) induce remissions, 2) maintain remissions, 3) minimize side effects of treatment, and 4) improve the quality of life. Treatment of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis with medications is similar though not always identical.

Medications for treating Crohn's disease include

  1. anti-inflammatory agents such as 5-ASA compounds and corticosteroids,
  2. topical antibiotics, and
  3. immuno-modulators.

Selection of treatment regimens depends on disease severity, disease location, and disease-associated complications. Various guidelines recommend that approaches be sequential - initially to induce clinical remission, and then to maintain remissions. Initial evidence of improvement should be seen within 2 to 4 weeks and maximal improvement should be seen in 12 to 16 weeks3. The classic approach to therapy in Crohn's disease has been a "step-up" approach starting with the least toxic agents for mild disease, and increasingly more aggressive treatment for more severe disease, or patients who have not responded to less toxic agents. More recently the field has been moving toward a "top-down" approach (early aggressive management) which might decrease exposure to anti-inflammatory agents and increase exposure to agents that enhance mucosal healing that might prevent future complications4.

Return to Crohn's Disease

See what others are saying

Comment from: RJ, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: March 27

I found out 2 years ago I had Crohn's disease and was given Apriso (generic form) this past December and I had to quit it due to a reaction to it. I had taken it for a good 3 months, but one of the side effects was too much. I broke out with a rash plus had itching. I am seeing my gastrointestinal specialist in April.

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Comment from: norsequeen, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: July 15

I was diagnosed about 25 years ago with Crohn's disease and at that time, to my knowledge, there was only one medication that was prescribed; Asacol. Because there was no generic for it, eventually my insurance stopped paying for it and the cost to me was over USD 300 per month. I decided to stop taking it except for really bad relapses. I've not taken anything for the last 15 years at least. Asacol was very good for stopping the symptoms and I usually only needed it for a month or less.

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Comment from: Stefan, 19-24 Male (Patient) Published: July 07

Alongside Crohn's I also suffer from ankylosing spondylitis, so with my bowel problems I also had problems walking. But after many failed attempts I found Humira (adalimumab). Not only did it fix my joints and back problems but also my Crohn's disease related problems. The therapy is painless and no side effects so far. I can run, jump, and eat what I want (but only moderately). The only down side is it is very expensive here where I live (500 euro per shot). I strongly suggest this medicine for any Crohn's patients.

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