Celiac Disease and Drug-Based Therapies: Inquiry into Patients Demands

Digestion. 2016;93(2):160-6. doi: 10.1159/000441697. Epub 2016 Jan 23.


Background/aim: Medical research is looking for alternative drug-based options to the gluten-free diet (GFD) for celiac disease. We aimed at evaluating the need for alternative therapies perceived by celiac patients.

Methods: During the 2013 meeting of the Lombardy section of the Italian Celiac Patients Association, adult subjects were invited to fill in a questionnaire investigating their clinical profile in relation to compliance to the diet, quality of life (QOL) as well as their opinion on alternative therapies.

Results: Three hundred and seventy two patients (76 m, mean age 41.7 ± 13.9 years) completed the questionnaire. Patients reported a significant improvement in health status (HS) and QOL after the diet was started (p < 0.001). The GFD was accepted by 88% patients, but the need for alternative therapies was reported by 65%. Subjects expressing the need for a drug-based therapy showed a lower increase in QOL (p = 0.003) and HS (p = 0.005) on GFD. The preferred option for an alternative therapy was the use of enzymes (145 subjects), followed by a vaccine (111 subjects).

Conclusion: The GFD is favorably accepted by most celiac patients. Nevertheless, a proportion of patients pronounce themselves in favor of the development of alternative drugs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Celiac Disease / diet therapy
  • Celiac Disease / drug therapy*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, Gluten-Free* / psychology
  • Enzyme Therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Preference*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vaccines / therapeutic use*


  • Vaccines