Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020 Aug 12;8:CD000543. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD000543.pub5.
BACKGROUND: Oral 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA) preparations were intended to avoid the adverse effects of sulfasalazine (SASP) while maintaining its therapeutic benefits. It was previously found that 5-ASA drugs in doses of at least 2 g/day were more effective than placebo but no more effective than SASP for inducing remission in ulcerative colitis (UC). This review is an update of a previously published Cochrane Review.
OBJECTIVES: To assess the efficacy, dose-responsiveness and safety of oral 5-ASA compared to placebo, SASP, or 5-ASA comparators (i.e. other formulations of 5-ASA) for induction of remission in active UC. A secondary objective was to compare the efficacy and safety of once-daily dosing of oral 5-ASA versus conventional dosing regimens (two or three times daily).
SEARCH METHODS: We searched MEDLINE, Embase and the Cochrane Library on 11 June 2019. We also searched references, conference proceedings and study registers to identify additional studies.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We considered randomized controlled trials (RCTs) including adults (aged 18 years or more) with active UC for inclusion. We included studies that compared oral 5-ASA therapy with placebo, SASP, or other 5-ASA formulations. We also included studies that compared once-daily to conventional dosing as well as dose-ranging studies.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Outcomes include failure to induce global/clinical remission, global/clinical improvement, endoscopic remission, endoscopic improvement, adherence, adverse events (AEs), serious adverse events (SAEs), withdrawals due to AEs, and withdrawals or exclusions after entry. We analyzed five comparisons: 5-ASA versus placebo, 5-ASA versus sulfasalazine, once-daily dosing versus conventional dosing, 5-ASA (e.g. MMX mesalamine, Ipocol, Balsalazide, Pentasa, Olsalazine and 5-ASA micropellets) versus comparator 5-ASA (e.g. Asacol, Claversal, Salofalk), and 5-ASA dose-ranging. We calculated the risk ratio (RR) and 95% confidence interval (95% CI) for each outcome. We analyzed data on an intention-to-treat basis, and used GRADE to assess the overall certainty of the evidence.
MAIN RESULTS: We include 54 studies (9612 participants). We rated most studies at low risk of bias. Seventy-one per cent (1107/1550) of 5-ASA participants failed to enter clinical remission compared to 83% (695/837) of placebo participants (RR 0.86, 95% CI 0.82 to 0.89; 2387 participants, 11 studies; high-certainty evidence). We also observed a dose-response trend for 5-ASA. There was no difference in clinical remission rates between 5-ASA and SASP. Fifty-four per cent (150/279) of 5-ASA participants failed to enter remission compared to 58% (144/247) of SASP participants (RR 0.90, 95% CI 0.77 to 1.04; 526 participants, 8 studies; moderate-certainty evidence). There was no difference in remission rates between once-daily dosing and conventional dosing. Sixty per cent (533/881) of once-daily participants failed to enter clinical remission compared to 61% (538/880) of conventionally-dosed participants (RR 0.99, 95% CI 0.93 to 1.06; 1761 participants, 5 studies; high-certainty evidence). Eight per cent (15/179) of participants dosed once daily failed to adhere to their medication regimen compared to 6% (11/179) of conventionally-dosed participants (RR 1.36, 95% CI 0.64 to 2.86; 358 participants, 2 studies; low-certainty evidence). There does not appear to be any difference in efficacy among the various 5-ASA formulations. Fifty per cent (507/1022) of participants in the 5-ASA group failed to enter remission compared to 52% (491/946) of participants in the 5-ASA comparator group (RR 0.94, 95% CI 0.86 to 1.02; 1968 participants, 11 studies; moderate-certainty evidence). There was no evidence of a difference in the incidence of adverse events and serious adverse events between 5-ASA and placebo, once-daily and conventionally-dosed 5-ASA, and 5-ASA and comparator 5-ASA formulation studies. Common adverse events included flatulence, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, headache and worsening UC. SASP was not as well tolerated as 5-ASA. Twenty-nine per cent (118/411) of SASP participants experienced an AE compared to 15% (72/498) of 5-ASA participants (RR 0.48, 95% CI 0.36 to 0.63; 909 participants, 12 studies; moderate-certainty evidence).
AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: There is high-certainty evidence that 5-ASA is superior to placebo, and moderate-certainty evidence that 5-ASA is not more effective than SASP. Considering relative costs, a clinical advantage to using oral 5-ASA in place of SASP appears unlikely. High-certainty evidence suggests 5-ASA dosed once daily appears to be as efficacious as conventionally-dosed 5-ASA. There may be little or no difference in efficacy or safety among the various 5-ASA formulations.