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Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2003 Mar;1(2):122-8.

Budesonide versus mesalamine for maintaining remission in patients refusing other immunomodulators for steroid-dependent Crohn's disease.

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First Department of Gastroenterology, Evangelismos Hospital, Athens, Greece.



To compare the efficacy of controlled-release budesonide capsules with that of mesalamine for maintaining remission and improving quality of life (QOL) in patients with steroid-dependent Crohn's disease.


Fifty-seven patients (25 men; mean age, 32 +/- 10.1 yr) with quiescent steroid-dependent Crohn's ileitis, ileocolitis, or colitis (Crohn's disease activity index <150) entered a prospective, investigator-blind trial. Patients were eligible for treatment with azathioprine but had not consented or had developed side effects. Patients were randomized to receive budesonide 6 mg/day (n = 29) or mesalamine 1 g 3 times/day (n = 28). Follow-up assessments were made every 2 months for up to 1 year or until relapse. At each visit, quality of life (QOL) was assessed using the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Questionnaire (IBDQ).


There were no significant differences in baseline clinical characteristics between the study groups. The 1-year relapse rate was significantly lower in the budesonide group than in the mesalamine group (55% vs. 82%; 95% confidence interval, 12.4%-41%; P = 0.045). Patients assigned to budesonide also remained in remission longer (241 +/- 114 days vs. 147 +/- 117 days; 95% confidence interval, 32.7-155.3 days; P = 0.003). Compared with mesalamine, budesonide treatment also was associated with a better QOL throughout the study (mean total IBDQ scores 165 +/- 36 vs. 182 +/- 28, respectively; 95% confidence interval, -0.4 to 34.4, P = 0.0001). This advantage was confirmed in patients' self-assessed QOL scores.


Over a 1-year period, controlled-release budesonide was significantly more effective than mesalamine for maintaining remission and improving the QOL of patients with steroid-dependent Crohn's disease.

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