Background & aims: Aminosalicylates are widely used in the treatment of ulcerative colitis (UC). Balsalazide is a novel mesalamine prodrug, activated by colonic bacteria. The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy and safety of balsalazide with that of a pH-dependent formulation of mesalamine in active UC.
Methods: A randomized, double-blind study was performed comparing balasalazide, 6.75 g daily, with mesalamine, 2.4 g daily, administered for 4, 8, or 12 weeks to 101 (99 evaluable) patients with symptomatic, sigmoidoscopically verified UC.
Results: More patients treated with balsalazide achieved symptomatic remission after 2 (64% [balsalazide] vs. 43% [mesalamine]), 4 (70% vs. 51%), 8 (78% vs. 45%), and 12 weeks (88% vs. 57%) and complete remission (none/mild symptoms, sigmoidoscopy grade 0/1, no rectal steroid use within 4 days) after 4 (38% vs. 12%), 8 (54% vs. 22%), and 12 weeks (62% vs. 37%). Patients taking balsalazide experienced more asymptomatic days (4 weeks, 24% vs. 14%) and achieved the first asymptomatic day more rapidly (median, 10 vs. 25 days). Fewer patients in the balsalazide group reported adverse events (48% vs. 71%); four serious adverse events occurred in the mesalamine group.
Conclusions: Balsalazide is more effective and better tolerated than mesalamine as treatment for acute UC.