Johnson & Johnson’s Remicade (infliximab) has been shown to control Crohn’s disease more effectively than standard immunomodulator azathioprine, the company says.

According to findings from the SONIC trial, a significantly greater proportion of patients with moderate to severe Crohn’s disease receiving Remicade, either in combination with azathioprine or as a monotherapy, experienced steroid-free remission and mucosal healing compared with patients receiving azathioprine alone.

Azathioprine is not approved for the treatment of Crohn’s by the US Food and Drug Administration but is widely used to treat patients with the disease, and is approved in some countries.

“Findings from the SONIC trial have the potential to challenge the treatment protocol for Crohn’s disease as these data show that introducing Remicade earlier may result in more patients achieving steroid-free remission and complete mucosal healing,” said lead investigator Jean-Frederic Colombel.

In 1998 Remicade became the first anti-TNF-alpha therapy approved by the FDA for the treatment of moderately to severely active Crohn's disease for the reduction of the signs and symptoms in patients who have an inadequate response to conventional therapy.

During the past decade, Remicade has also become the first and only anti-TNF-alpha therapy that the FDA has approved for the treatment of ulcerative colitis, a related inflammatory bowel disease, and pediatric Crohn’s disease. It is also a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.