Infliximab, an anti-TNF biologic agent, is currently indicated and reimbursed for rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn's disease (both adult and paediatric), ulcerative colitis, psoriatic arthritis and plaque psoriasis. Development of national and international guidelines for rheumatology, gastroenterology and dermatology, was mostly based on clinical studies and expert opinion. The aim of this study was to compare available guidelines and local protocols for rheumatology, dermatology and gastroenterology, regarding dosage of infliximab, synergy of infliximab with concomitant medication and monitoring of vital signs during infliximab administration, for achieving optimal care.
Current international, national and local guidelines on the use of infliximab were reviewed and compared, differences and shortcomings were identified, and optimal treatment schedules discussed during a meeting (July 2008) of clinical experts and researchers from three departments of a Dutch university hospital.
Recommended dosages of infliximab are not equal for different indications. Loss of response to infliximab is a common problem encountered within the three medical specialties, but indications for adjustments in treatment schedules are lacking in all of the guidelines. Monitoring of vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, temperature) during infusion with infliximab is common practice and recommended by some guidelines. Routine measurement of vital signs is not of any value in predicting or recognizing acute infusion reactions, in our experience, and this is confirmed by literature on inflammatory bowel disease.
Different indications encompass different dosing schedules. National and internal guidelines do not provide advice regarding loss of response. Routine measurement of vital signs during infusion is not valuable in detecting acute infusion reactions and should only be performed in case of an acute infusion reaction. These topics need to be studied in future studies and covered in future guidelines.