About the diseases

Mesalazine is an Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient used in pharmaceutical formulations for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD).

What are inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs)?

Ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD) are chronic disorders causing inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract. They are both relatively rare diseases. The inflammations cause persistent diarrhoea, with. abdominal pain, fever, fatigue and weight loss also occuring. It is in primarily industrialised countries where IBDs are seen. IBDs affect all races, but with lower incidences in some. It is interesting that people who move from an underdeveloped part of the world to a more highly developed area end up being at similar risk of developing IBDs as the general population there. Urban areas report more cases than rural areas and the northern hemisphere generally has higher rates than the southern.

Development of inflammatory bowel diseases

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can start at any age, but the highest number of new cases is seen in young people. The severity of both can be very unpredictable, with flare-ups being followed by a lessening of symptoms or even remission. Both can be difficult to diagnose. Their symptoms are not only similar to each other but also to other conditions such as infectious gastroenteritis and irritable bowel syndrome. Some patients go years before receiving a correct diagnosis – and therefore treatment.

Causes of inflammatory bowel diseases

IBDs are still not well understood, but there seem to be genetic and environmental causes. Stress, smoking, or highly refined diets are thought to be contributing factors. Research continues.

Ulcerative colitis

This almost always spreads from the rectum. Most patients diagnosed are between 15 and 35, with as many as400 people in every 100,000 suffering from ulcerative colitis worldwide.

Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastro-intestinal tract, but is mainly found in the small intestine. The incidence worldwide is up to 150 people in every 100,000, with the most common age group being 15 to 25. Recently, statistics have indicated a possible increase in new cases, but no clear reason has been identified. Crohn’s Disease does appear to be genetic, with up to a fifth of patients having a relative who also has the disease.

Complications of inflammatory bowel diseases

Anaemia, dehydration, cancer and severe weight loss can result, which in severe cases can be life-threatening.

(IBD description through the courtesy of Ferring Pharmaceuticals.)

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