CCFA survey finds the majority of ulcerative colitis patients are not compliant with medications

Survey respondents report quality of life is largely impacted by the disease

New York, NY – December 18, 2006 – A new, large survey supported by the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) finds that 65 percent of ulcerative colitis (UC) patients are less than fully compliant with first-line therapies to treat their disease. The findings are significant because an earlier study found that patients less than fully compliant experience five times the number of disease flare-ups.

Respondents to the CCFA survey were taking a variety of aminosalicylates, medications which help relieve symptoms and inflammation for many UC sufferers, but which require multiple pills be taken two to four times a day. CCFA conducted the survey to gain a better understanding of patients' experiences with UC and these medications.

The most commonly reported reasons for non-compliance with medications were the dosing frequency, the number of pills and the inconvenience associated with the medication. Seventy-four percent of the 1,595 UC sufferers included in the survey experienced at least one flare-up of UC during the previous year. Flare-ups can involve heightened symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fatigue as well as complications such as anemia.

"The study shows that many patients struggle to comply with their current medication regimen because they have to take multiple pills throughout the day," said the survey report's author Edward V. Loftus, Jr., a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. "And we know that when UC patients don't take their medications as prescribed, it can have a significant impact on their health and quality of life."

In addition to poor compliance with medication, the survey evaluated overall quality of life for those living with UC – 60 percent reported loss of bowel control, 49 percent reported decreased energy levels, 46 percent reported spending less time away from home and 37 percent reported involvement in fewer social activities.

"Lack of compliance with medication is a major challenge across a variety of disease states and has a huge impact on Americans' health and the cost of healthcare in our country," said Jonathan Braun, MD, PhD, chair of CCFA's National Scientific Advisory Committee. "The introduction of new treatments with more convenient dosing regimens will be an important step in helping UC patients to remain compliant with their medication, lower the frequency of flares and improve their quality of life," he added.

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The survey findings were recently presented at the Advances in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases conference in early December, and were published in the December 2006 issue of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, the official journal of CCFA.

About Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are painful, medically incurable illnesses that attack the digestive system. Crohn's disease may attack anywhere from the mouth to the anus, while ulcerative colitis inflames the large intestine (colon) only. Symptoms may include persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain or cramps, rectal bleeding, fever, and weight loss. Many patients require hospitalization and surgery. These illnesses can cause severe complications, including colon cancer in patients with long-term disease. Some 1.4 million American adults and children suffer from Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, with as many as 150,000 under the age of 18. Most people develop the diseases between the ages of 15 and 35.

About CCFA

The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America's (CCFA) mission is to cure and prevent Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis through research, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults affected by these digestive diseases through education and support. More than 80 cents of every dollar the Foundation spends goes to mission-critical programs. CCFA consistently meets the standards of organizations that monitor charities, including the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance (give.org) and the American Institute of Philanthropy (charitywatch.org). For more information, contact CCFA at 800-932-2423 or visit www.ccfa.org.

This survey was supported by CCFA. Funding for writing support was provided in an unrestricted grant by Shire Pharmaceuticals Inc, PA, USA.


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