Drugs Prescribed for Crohn’s Disease

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, and no two cases are treated the exact same way. Medical treatment for Crohn’s Disease can help to reduce inflammation and give patient’s more control over their condition. In some cases, the effective use of these drugs may not only lead to symptom relief but also long-term remission. Currently, there are a number of drugs available for treating Crohn’s Disease, and our research team is helping test new therapies in this Crohn’s disease clinical trial in DeLand, FL as well.

(If you are interested in learning more about Crohn’s Disease, then please see: Signs & Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease and Diagnostic Tests for Crohn’s Disease)

Anti-Inflammatory Medication

Anti-inflammatory drugs are often the first line of defense used against Crohn’s and other forms inflammatory bowel disease. These types of drugs include:

  • Mesalamine (Asacol, Rowasa): This drug can be prescribed in tablet form, or in some cases, it may need to be administered in the form of suppository or enema. All of this will depend on which area of the colon is most affected by the disease. Mesalamine is not very effective for cases where Crohn’s Disease has mainly attacked the small intestine. Side effects of this drug include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and possible heartburn.
  • Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine): Despite not always being effective against Crohn’s Disease, it is still prescribed in cases where the colon has been affected by the disease. Unfortunately, sulfasalazine also causes a number of reported side effects, including nausea, vomiting, headaches, and also heartburn. It is not advisable to take this form of medication if you are allergic to sulfa medications.
  • Corticosteroids: As you may already know, corticosteroids are used to treat a number of conditions, as they can combat inflammation that occurs anywhere in the human body. However, these drugs have also become somewhat notorious due to the numerous side effects that they can cause. Corticosteroids should not be taken unless absolutely necessary, and only for a short period of time. Reported side effects include night sweats, puffy face, trouble sleeping, and hyperactivity.

Immune System Suppressors

These drugs are also effective at reducing the inflammation caused by Crohn’s Disease, only that they do so by subduing the immune system rather than treating the inflammation itself. When the immune system response has been subdued, the inflammation will begin to subside. In some cases, doctors may choose to prescribe a combination of these drugs for Crohn’s Disease.

  • Azathioprine (Imuran) and mercaptopurine (Purinethol): Azathioprine and mercaptopurine are the most common forms of immunosuppressants used to treat inflammatory bowel disease. Patients who are prescribed these medications will most likely need to go in to have their blood checked on a regular basis. This is one of the best ways to monitor for potential side effects, for example the subdued immune system can cause a lowered resistance to infection. Patients may also experience some nausea and vomiting.
  • Infliximab (Remicade): This immunosuppressant is prescribed to both children and adults who have moderate to severe Crohn’s Disease. Treatment can begin almost immediately after Crohn’s Disease has been diagnosed, especially if the doctor believes that the condition is likely to get worse. It can also be applied to other cases where the previously applied medications were not effective. In some cases, it may be taken in combination with another immunosuppressant, but this is not common practice. Infliximab will neutralize the tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a protein that is produced by the immune system. It will remove the TNF from a patient’s bloodstream before it can cause additional inflammation in the intestinal tract.
  • Adalimumab (Humira): This drug has a similar method of action to infliximab, meaning that it to works to block TNF in people with moderate to severe Crohn’s Disease. It also can be used soon after a patient has been diagnosed if their condition is more severe or they possess a fistula. Again, this is a drug that will be used in cases where other medications have failed. If used effectively, adalimumab can help to control the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease, or it could even cause complete symptom remission.
  • Methotrexate (Rheumatrex): This particular drug has been used to treat such things as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis, but it can also be used to treat Crohn’s Disease as well. While it is not common practice to prescribe methotrexate for Crohn’s patients, some doctors have used it in cases where their patients saw no benefits with other medications. Unfortunately, this drug can also cause various side effects following prolonged usage. The short-term side effects of this drug can include nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and increased risk of infection. Long-term side effects tend to be more severe and can include both liver scaring and even cancer. Patients who are taking methotrexate should avoid becoming pregnant, and regular blood tests are recommended to scan for side effects.

As mentioned earlier, no two cases of Crohn’s Disease can be treated the same way. Various combinations of these medications are used in order to combat this inflammatory disease, and sometimes these are not always effective. On the other hand, there are experimental medications currently being tested in Crohn’s Disease clinical trials. These have been a viable option for patients who have not had any luck with the current treatments available for Crohn’s Disease.

Clinical Trial Indications