Conventional drug therapy in inflammatory bowel disease

Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 1995 Sep;24(3):509-21.


The conventional treatment of inflammatory bowel disease should center around the liberal use of one of the many available forms of 5-ASA. Sulfasalazine should be used initially with the newer mesalamine-only containing drugs being reserved for sulfasalazine-intolerant patients or for those patients who require larger doses of medication. The choice of the delivery method should be made with the knowledge of the extent of disease and the potential coverage areas of the individual delivery methods. Systemic and topical glucocorticoids are an invaluable adjunct to 5-ASA therapy, but their use must be directed with the goal of remission induction. The tapering of glucocorticoids should be as prompt as the maintenance of remission allows, with a useful general guideline of decreasing the dose by 1 mg per day. Immunosuppressive therapy, including azathioprine and 6-mercaptopurine, holds promise for refractory cases of inflammatory bowel disease and for their potential steroid sparing properties; antibiotic therapy with metronidazole and ciprofloxacin in the absence of documented infectious disease offers additional routes to control disease. The majority of patients require a combination of drugs to attain remission. Only further study will reveal the ideal regimen for each of the different subsets of inflammatory bowel disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aminosalicylic Acids / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / drug therapy*


  • Aminosalicylic Acids
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Immunosuppressive Agents