Background: Corticosteroids are the most efficacious drugs for inducing remission in active Crohn's disease, but their benefits are frequently offset by serious side effects. Budesonide is a corticosteroid with high topical antiinflammatory activity but low systemic activity because of extensive hepatic metabolism. We investigated the efficacy and safety of an oral controlled-ileal-release preparation of budesonide in patients with active Crohn's disease involving the ileum or ileum and proximal colon.
Methods: In a double-blind, multicenter trial, 258 patients were randomly assigned to receive placebo or one of three doses of budesonide--3, 9, or 15 mg daily. The primary outcome measure was clinical remission, as defined by a score of 150 or less on the Crohn's disease activity index.
Results: After eight weeks of treatment, remission occurred in 51 percent of the patients in the group receiving 9 mg of budesonide (95 percent confidence interval, 39 to 63 percent), 43 percent of those receiving 15 mg (95 percent confidence interval, 31 to 55 percent), and 33 percent of those receiving 3 mg (95 percent confidence interval, 21 to 44 percent), as compared with 20 percent of those receiving placebo (P < 0.001, P = 0.009, and P = 0.13, respectively). Improvements in the quality of life, as measured by the patients' responses to the inflammatory bowel disease questionnaire, paralleled these remission rates. Location of disease, prior surgical resection, and previous use of corticosteroids did not affect the outcome. A total of 119 patients (46 percent) were withdrawn from the study before the trial ended, 96 because of insufficient therapeutic effects, 13 because of adverse reactions, and 10 because of noncompliance. Budesonide caused a dose-related reduction in basal and corticotropin-stimulated plasma cortisol concentrations but was not associated with clinically important corticosteroid-related symptoms or other toxic effects.
Conclusions: In an eight-week trial, an oral controlled-release preparation of budesonide at an optimal daily dose of 9 mg was well tolerated and effective against active Crohn's disease of the ileum and proximal colon.