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New Treatment Option for Crohn’s Disease in Kids

Leah Sarich | posted Thursday, Sep 26th, 2013

About ten thousand Canadian children are living with Crohn’s disease. In fact, Canada has one of the highest rates of Crohn’s disease in the world.

But the good news is there is a new treatment option for kids with the disease. So first off, what is Crohn’s disease? I spoke with the┬áDirector of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinic at the University of Calgary, Dr. Remo Panaccione, who says Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract which can be anwywhere from “gums to bums.”

There is no cure for it and symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea and in children, Crohn’s disease is a leading cause of delayed growth development and delayed puberty.

There are several treatment options for Crohn’s depending on the severity of the disease and where the disease occurs. Usually patients start on non-specific anti-inflammatory drugs, then prednisone – a steroid, then immuno-suppressant therapy and then the new class of medications called biologics. Surgery is also used to treat crohn’s. About 80 percent of patients will have surgery at some point to remove affected tissue.

This new medication is in the biologic family. It’s called Humira. Dr. Panaccione says the medication is a great option for pediatric patients because it’s effective, safe and easy to use. The other biologic approved for Crohn’s has to be administered in a hospital. So kids have to go in for a day once a month. By contrast, Humira is a self-injectable medication. Similar to an Epipen, patients inject themselves every two weeks.

Humira does come with side effects. It supresses the immune system so patients are more at risk of infection. Dr. Panaccione says 10 percent of patients will get an infection each year. But the benefits of this medication far outweigh the risks.

Humira is also expensive. Each injection costs one thousand dollars and Alberta Health does not pay for it yet. However, most extended health are plans do cover the medication and the drug company does supply it to certain patients as well.

For more information about Crohn’s disease and the treatment options visit the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada website.


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