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Physicians and Patients Perceive Ulcerative Colitis Differently

December 8, 2007

Shire pharmaceuticals, the maker of Pentasa, sponsored a series of surveys regarding the impact of ulcerative colitis on patient lives. The surveys included 300 gastroenterologists and 451 ulcerative colitis (UC) patients.

They are informative regarding (1) the impact UC has on a person's life and (2) identifying a mismatch between how doctors believe patients are feeling--and how patients are actually feeling.
Several of the findings appear below:

> "Nearly three out of four patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) consider feeling unwell to be a normal part of life, while gastroenterologists estimate this to be true for only 37 percent of their UC patients"

> "42 percent of patients surveyed report symptoms of UC cause some disruption to their everyday activities, while physicians estimate that this is true for just 17 percent of patients."

> "More UC patients indicate that they think their disease is controlling their lives (53 percent; n=451) than RA [rheumatoid arthritis] patients (44 percent; n=309), asthma patients (19 percent; n=305) or migraine patients (37 percent; n=305) (p<0.05)."

> "UC patients also report feelings of stress (82 percent), depression (62 percent), and embarrassment (70 percent) at higher rates than patients with any of the other chronic conditions surveyed (p<0.05)."

> The majority (62 percent) of patients with UC feel that the disease makes it difficult to lead a normal life, which is significantly higher than the proportion of patients with asthma (33 percent) or migraine (59 percent) who feel this way (p<0.05).

> "These physicians and patients also differ in their beliefs on flare frequency. UC patients surveyed report experiencing an average of eight disease flares per year (self-defined: five flares for mild patients, eight flares for moderate patients, and 11 flares for severe patients). Additionally, the frequency of disease flares was underestimated by physicians: 58 percent of gastroenterologists estimate that patients with mild UC will experience only one flare-up per year; 40 percent of gastroenterologists estimate patients with moderate UC will experience two flare-ups per year and 30 percent of gastroenterologists estimate three flare-ups; while 22 percent of gastroenterologists estimate patients with severe UC will experience six or more flare-ups per year."

source: Shire press release via Reuters

note: Shire invested in these interviews as part of promoting its new mesalamine drug that only needs to be taken once a day. Many questions on the survey--not included above--dealt with how regularly patients take their medications and how "requiring multiple daily dosing is a challenge."