Systemic Corticosteroids but Not Anti-TNF Are Associated With Increased Risk of Hospitalization, Intensive Care, and Death Among Patients With IBD: Results From a Large, Population-based Cohort

Digestive Disease Week (DDW) 2022 May 2022

Michael Kappelman, Lauren Parlett, Kevin Haynes, Mano Selvan, Qianli Ma, Vinit Nair, Sruthi Adimadhyam, Laura Hou, Audrey Wolfe, Darren Toh, Jessica Burns, J Dorand, James Lewis, and Mille Long

Tags Inflammatory Bowel Disease | COVID19 | Corticosteroids | AntiTNF | Hospitalization


Introduction: Immunosuppressed individuals are at higher risk for COVID-19 and resulting complications, yet robust data in patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) are lacking. We evaluated the risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization and severe sequelae in a large, population-based U.S. cohort of patients with IBD. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study utilizing insurance claims data from two large U.S. health plans (Anthem and Humana). Cohort follow-up began on 1 March 2020, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. We included IBD patients identified by two diagnosis codes for Crohn's disease (CD) or ulcerative colitis (UC) or one diagnosis code plus a treatment code for an IBD-specific medication in the six months prior to cohort entry. Use of IBD medications was ascertained in the 90 days prior to cohort entry. Study outcomes included COVID-19 hospitalization, mechanical ventilation, and inpatient death. Patients were followed until outcome of interest, death, disenrollment, or end of the study period. We described the occurrence of COVID-19 outcomes according to IBD treatment status ascertained prior to cohort entry. Results: The study population included 102,989 patients (48,728 CD, 47,592 UC) with a mean age of 53 years; 55% were female. Overall, 412 (0.4%) patients were hospitalized for COVID-19. Individuals treated with systemic corticosteroids were more likely to be hospitalized than those treated with any other non-steroid medication (0.6% vs 0.3%, p=<.0001). Among patients not treated with corticosteroids, patients receiving anti-TNF were less likely to be hospitalized than those treated with other medication classes (0.2% vs 0.5%, p=<.0001) or no medications (0.5%, p=<.0001). Older age was associated with increased incidence of hospitalization for COVID-19. Overall, 71 patients (0.07%) required mechanical ventilation and 52 (0.05%) died at the hospital due to COVID-19 or resulting complications. The proportion of patients requiring mechanical ventilation or dying was higher amongst users of corticosteroids versus those treated with any other non-steroid medication (1.9% vs 0.05%, p=<.0001 and 0.1% vs 0.04%, p=0.0015) respectively). Associations between corticosteroid use all outcomes were similar across age groups. Conclusion: Among patients with IBD, those treated with systemic corticosteroids had more frequent hospitalization, mechanical ventilation, and death from COVID-19 as compared to patients on other treatments or no treatment at all. Anti-TNF therapy was associated with a decreased occurrence of hospitalization. This finding reinforces previous guidance to taper and/or discontinue corticosteroids to reduce the risk of infections, including COVID-19. Use of steroid-sparing maintenance treatments such as anti-TNF agents appears to be safe.

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