Finally available in our country a new drug for ulcerative colitis (UC), a chronic inflammatory disease of the large intestine, with a negative impact on the quality of life of those who suffer from it. This pathology conditions the entire existence of an individual in perspective. A path of obstacles between diagnoses, exacerbations, hospitalizations and work problems, which puts a strain on the person, to which is added the limitation of the therapies available. For patients suffering from ulcerative colitis, we are moving towards a simpler future and a better life with the arrival in Italy of Pfizer’s tofacitinib citrate, the first and only oral drug of the JAK-inhibitor class for moderate to severe active ulcerative colitis . Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory disease that selectively involves the mucous membrane of the large intestine, the colon, primarily affecting the rectal mucosa but which may extend to part or all of the colon. It is an immune-mediated disease of unknown nature influenced by genetic, environmental and infectious factors. In Italy, it is estimated that 100,000 to 150,000 people are affected by this disease, with a peak of onset between 20 and 30 years of age, in full productive age.
Today, for those suffering from ulcerative colitis, a simpler path is opened thanks to the innovation of oral therapy, which frees patients from taking infusion therapies, facilitating adherence and quality of life. The European Commission recently approved the extension of the indication of tofacitinib for the treatment of patients with moderate to severe active ulcerative colitis who have experienced an inadequate response, lost response or are intolerant to conventional therapy or a biological agent. ; now tofacitinib is also available for this indication in Italy. “Tofacitinib represents a significant change for patients with moderate to severe active ulcerative colitis,Alessandro Armuzzi(photo), professor of Gastroenterology, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Rome – Tofacitinib showed good performance in the pivotal clinical studies both in patients who had not been treated with biological therapies and who were refractory to conventional therapies, both in patients and they had already failed biologic drug therapies. Rapid action, efficacy on mucosal healing, improvement in the quality of life and the possibility of a remission maintained over the years, these are its most relevant characteristics. Tofacitinib is a Janus kinase inhibitor, able to “turn off” the cascade of the inflammatory process and represents a revolution, a return to oral therapy but with much higher performance on the severity of the disease and with significant improvements even compared to biological drugs “.
Life for someone with ulcerative colitis is difficult. Patients live in the knowledge that their disease is omnipresent and are aware that colon inflammation poses an increased risk of developing cancer for them. Not to be underestimated is the influence that ulcerative colitis has on the psychological level and on the course of the disease itself. “Ulcerative colitis is a pathology with a strong social impact, characterized by a disability that is not visible and with symptoms that are difficult to describe, characterized by a trend with phases of activity and quiescence, in which the person may seem healthy, but in reality they are not and – explained Salvatore Leone, director general of AMICI Onlus – Chronic inflammatory diseases of the intestine are on the rise and mainly affect young people of working age: impact of the disease on a person’s life should be of great importance to the Society and to the whole system of care, including pharmaceutical research, to ensure effective, sustainable treatments for the NHS and to move from a disease-centered system to a person-centered system “. The therapeutic breakthrough of tofacitinib citrate is that it is the first oral drug in the treatment of ulcerative colitis that blocks more cytokines (inflammation molecules) simultaneously than monoclonal antibodies, which inhibit one cytokine at a time. Inhibition of JAK represents an important resource for the development of new advanced treatment options for autoimmune diseases.
“Science is at the center of our mission and of our daily commitment, a commitment that goes beyond the laboratory, putting people at the center and has life as its great protagonist – said Efrem Appel, Inflammation & Immunology director of Pfizer in Italy – The disease it is not always visible to the eyes of others, but it is there and it changes your life, asking you to be stronger and more courageous. People forced to live with chronic inflammatory bowel disease not only have the right to survive as long as possible, but also to live in dignity. Therefore, we work every day so that patients suffering from socially invisible chronic diseases can have a better quality of life, developing and making available scientific innovations capable of bringing concrete changes in their lives ยป.

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