New Treatment Option for Moderately to Severely Active Ulcerative Colitis: Etrasimod Gets UK Approval

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK has approved Etrasimod (brand name Velsipity) for treating adults (over 16) with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis. This chronic condition causes inflammation and ulcers in the inner lining of the colon and rectum. Symptoms include recurring bloody diarrhea, stomach cramps, fatigue, and weight loss.

How Etrasimod Works:

Etrasimod is a prescription medication taken once daily. It works by regulating the immune system. Normally, white blood cells called lymphocytes travel from lymph nodes to fight infection. In ulcerative colitis, however, these cells contribute to inflammation. Etrasimod reduces the number of lymphocytes circulating near the large intestine, thereby easing inflammation and its associated symptoms.

Clinical Trial Results:

The approval is based on two clinical studies involving over 743 patients whose condition wasn’t adequately controlled by standard treatments. After 12 weeks, significantly more patients taking Etrasimod (26%) achieved remission (absence of symptoms) compared to those on placebo (11%). Additionally, a longer-term study showed sustained remission in 32% of patients on Etrasimod after 52 weeks, compared to just 7% on placebo.

Safety and Side Effects:

The most common side effects reported include slow heart rate, high blood pressure, urinary tract infections, and lower respiratory tract infections. As with any medication, the MHRA will continuously monitor Etrasimod’s safety and effectiveness. Patients experiencing side effects are encouraged to report them to their doctor or pharmacist and directly to the MHRA Yellow Card scheme.

Important Note:

Etrasimod should only be initiated under the supervision of a doctor experienced in treating ulcerative colitis.

Posted March 2024.


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