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Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2009 Jan;21(1):1-8. doi: 10.1097/MEG.0b013e32830bfb88.

Ulcerative colitis: current medical therapy and strategies for improving medication adherence.

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  • 1Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.


Ulcerative colitis (UC) is chronic inflammation of large intestine and often requires lifelong medication. Medical therapy aims to induce and maintain a clinical remission, reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and improve quality of life. Aminosalicylates are currently the first choice therapy both for the induction and the maintenance of remission in the patients with mild-to-moderate UC. For moderate-to-severe cases or those who do not respond to aminosalicylate therapy, additional treatment options including corticosteroids, immunomodulators, biological agents, cyclosporin, tacrolimus and surgery are available. Poor adherence to medication has been an important barrier to successful management of UC. Nonadherence has been associated with increased relapse rates, higher risk of colorectal cancer, poor quality of life and significantly increased healthcare costs. Therefore, improving adherence to medication is an important approach for a better care of the patients with UC. Definitive strategies are required to help the patients effectively self manage their disease and improve adherence. This review examines current medical therapy for UC, research progresses on medication adherence and the possible strategies for improving adherence in these patients.

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