Thalidomide May Help Kids With Crohn's Disease

Drug previously tied to birth defects helped induce remission in children with difficult-to-treat disease

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"But, it won't be a wonder drug. This wouldn't be a first-line treatment, or a treatment on its own. It would be used as an [additional] therapy," noted Ramprasad, who was not involved with the study. "The research is still early, and we need to see longer term follow-up."

Another expert, Dr. Michael Pettei, chief of pediatric gastroenterology at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park, N.Y., agreed.

"While it's good to have another agent, more studies need to be done on this," he said.

"There are a large number of agents currently available for the treatment of pediatric Crohn's disease, and all have different benefits and side effect profiles. If additional studies confirm these findings, thalidomide might be an additional choice," Pettei added.

Both experts said that because the drug has been around for so long, treatment with thalidomide would likely be very affordable.

Children and teens could probably continue using the drug into adulthood, although when they reached reproductive age, they would need to be counseled on the very serious risks of birth defects should a pregnancy occur. And, counseling and the use of birth control methods are currently required for a prescription for thalidomide.

More information

Learn more about the treatment of Crohn's disease in children from the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.

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