Background & aims: Budesonide (BUD) is a potent steroid that undergoes extensive first-pass metabolism. BUD incorporated in a pH-dependent formulation has been proposed as an alternative treatment for Crohn's disease (CD). The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy and safety of BUD and prednisone (PRED) in the treatment of active CD involving the terminal ileum and/or the colon.
Methods: Patients with mild to moderately active CD were included in a randomized, double-blind, double-dummy controlled trial. Patients received either 9 mg BUD once daily for 8 weeks or 40 mg PRED once daily for the first 2 weeks tapered gradually to 5 mg/day by the end of the study. Disease activity, quality of life, and laboratory parameters were recorded.
Results: One hundred patients received BUD, and 101 patients received PRED. By intention-to-treat analysis, treatment efficacy defined as Crohn's Disease Activity Index of <150 at completion was 51% and 52.5% for the BUD and PRED groups, respectively. Twice as many responded to treatment with no side effects in the BUD compared with the PRED group (30% vs. 14%) (P = 0.006). Most of the decrease in CDAI scores occurred during the first 2 weeks.
Conclusions: BUD is as effective as PRED in the treatment of CD involving the terminal ileum and right colon. BUD has significantly fewer steroid-related adverse reactions.