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Variation in access and prescription of vedolizumab and ustekinumab in paediatric patients with inflammatory bowel disease: a UK-wide study.

BACKGROUND: Therapeutic options for paediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are limited, especially for younger children. Unlike in adults, vedolizumab and ustekinumab are not licensed for paediatric use in the UK. We aimed to understand the real-world access to, and use of, these therapies in the paediatric population.

METHODS: We surveyed UK IBD centres to assess the incident use of vedolizumab and ustekinumab from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021. We collected information on funding, dose escalations and therapeutic drug monitoring.

RESULTS: 18 of 21 centres responded, covering an estimated 5260 patients. One hundred and thirteen were started on vedolizumab, prescription incidence 2.2%, median prescriptions per centre was 4 (range 1-20). Considering ustekinumab, 73 patients were commenced, prescription incidence 1.4%. Median prescription per centre was 3.5 (range 1-13). Prescription rates at each centre were not predicted by patient number cared for at that centre (p=0.2). Dose escalation was common in vedolizumab (66.7% centres) and ustekinumab (55.5%).Funding strategies varied substantially, and multiple funding sources were used; 12 of 18 centres (66.7%) reported funding through routine National Health Service (NHS) England/Scottish arrangements. There was local NHS trust funding in 8 of 18 centres (44.4%). Individual funding requests (IFRs) were used in 5 of 18 (27.8%), although IFRs are reserved for patients with unique additional characteristics. Four centres were unable to achieve funding in pre-pubescent children.

CONCLUSIONS: There is widespread use of vedolizumab and ustekinumab across the UK, although practice is highly variable. Access to therapy appeared to differ substantially. There is a growing disparity between international guidelines and real-world practice. Establishing early and effective therapy in all patients remains a priority.

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