Five-Fold VTE Risk Seen with Corticosteroids for IBD

Newly released study results suggest that corticosteroid therapy is associated with a nearly five-fold increase of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) compared to treatment with a biologic agent. This research is detailed in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

In this retrospective analysis, over 51,000 patients aged ≥18 years with IBD with at least one inpatient claim or two outpatients claims on different dates were identified in the the Truven Health MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters database. Patients were include if they were prescribed a corticosteroid and/or biologic between January 1, 2003 and December 31, 2009; any patients with a diagnosis of VTE or use of anticoagulants during the baseline period were excluded.

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Over a 12-month follow-up period, 325 VTE events were reported in 2.25% of patients receiving only corticosteroids, in 0.44% of patients receiving only biologics, and in 2.49% of patients receiving combination therapy. The unadjusted risk of VTE within 12 months of an index prescription was almost five-fold higher in patients treated with corticosteroids alone and with combination therapy vs. biologics alone.

While the association between active IBD flare and VTE has been established in previous research, this is the first study to show a strong independent association between corticosteroid use and VTE risk. The findings support the importance of steroid-sparing therapy in the maintenance of remission in IBD, the authors conclude.

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