Aim - We evaluated the effect of coadministration of sulphasalazine, mesalamine, and balsalazide on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of azathioprine and 6-mercaptopurine. Methods - Thirty four patients with Crohn's disease receiving azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine were enrolled in an eight week non-randomised parallel group drug interaction study and treated with mesalamine 4 g/day, sulphasalazine 4 g/day, or balsalazide 6.75 g/day. The primary outcome measure was the occurrence of clinically important leucopenia during the study, defined separately as total leucocyte counts <3.0 × 109/1 and ≤3.5×109/1. Whole blood 6-thioguanine nucleotide concentrations were determined. Results -Three patients could not be evaluated for the primary outcome measure. In the remaining 31 patients, the frequency of total leucocyte counts <3.0 and ≤3.5 were: 1/10 and 5/10 in the mesalamine group; 1/11 and 6/11 in the sulphasalazine group; and 0/10 and 2/10 in the balsalazide group. There were significant increases in mean whole blood 6-thioguanine nucleotide concentrations from baseline at most time points in the mesalamine and sulphasalazine groups but not in the balsalazide group. Conclusions - In patients with Crohn's disease receiving azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine, coadministration of mesalamine, sulphasalazine, and possibly balsalazide results in an increase in whole blood 6-thioguanine nucleotide concentrations and a high frequency of leucopenia.
- Inflammatory bowel disease
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