Introduction: Three anti TNF-α agents have currently been approved for the treatment of moderate-to-severe or complicated Crohn's disease (CD): infliximab, certolizumab and adalimumab. Infliximab is effective in CD, but for reasons linked to its chimeric structure, response to treatment may be lost overtime and as a result, it can sometimes be unable to provide long term durable treatment of CD. Adalimumab, a fully human anti TNF-α antibody, demonstrates similar treatment efficacy as infliximab and certolizumab, and can easily be self-administered at home.
Aim and Methods: A literature search in the Cochrane, MEDLINE, PUBMED, Ovid MEDLINER® and EMBASE databases has been performed on the efficacy, safety and the impact adalimumab has on the quality of life and natural history of CD. Abstracts presented at the DDW, UEGW and ECCO Congresses have also been reviewed as well as references from review articles, meta-analysis studies and published RCTs.
Results: Adalimumab induced remission of CD in 64% of patients, and maintained remission in more than 80% of initial responders. Adalimumab did not significantly increase the risk of adverse events compared with conventional medication up to 3 years of follow-up. Adalimumab reduces more than 50% the risk for hospitalisation and surgery due to CD. It is also effective for fistula closure, for the healing of the mucosa, and improving quality of life.
Conclusion: Adalimumab is effective in the induction and maintenance of clinical remission in CD and is generally well tolerated. It has been proved to have a positive impact by improving quality of life of patients, and reducing the need for hospitalisation and surgery due to CD. According to the European Crohn's and Colitis Organisation (ECCO), infliximab or adalimumab can be used for the treatment of fistulizing CD.