Use of anti-tumour necrosis factor agents in inflammatory bowel disease. European guidelines for 2001-2003

Int J Colorectal Dis. 2001 Feb;16(1):1-11; discussion 12-3. doi: 10.1007/s003840100285.


The introduction of novel anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) agents has not only led to impressive new therapeutic opportunities but also resulted in uncertainty regarding their optimal use and possible side effects. Guidelines are presented here for the use of anti-TNF agents in gastrointestinal disorders. Experts were chosen from different European countries by an algorithm to avoid bias. An expert consensus on guidelines was established using a two-stage procedure of systematic Medline and abstract search for evidence and a qualifying meeting to derive recommendations. Detailed guidelines were developed for the use and the future clinical development of anti-TNF agents in inflammatory bowel disease. Grading of available evidence and grading of recommendations were performed according to AHCPR guidelines. At present infliximab is the only registered agent for Crohn's disease. Infliximab should be always used at a dose of 5 mg/kg. The guidelines define the indications both in refractory and in fistulating disease for the readministration and before surgery. Guidelines for safety and for concomitant treatments are given. Prospects, potential clinical use, and future directions for the clinical development of other anti-TNF agents are detailed. Clinical use of anti-TNF agents will be influenced by a large number of clinical trials being concluded in 2001 and 2002. It is likely that anti-TNF therapies will become an important long-term therapy for a proportion of patients with Crohn's disease. Biological agents will be followed by smaller and more stable, orally available compounds. These guidelines will be succeeded by a formal public consensus in 2002/2003.

Publication types

  • Guideline
  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Crohn Disease / drug therapy*
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / therapeutic use*


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha