Biosimilars Take Center Stage at Digestive Disease Week

Damian McNamara

May 03, 2017

CHICAGO — A phase 3 randomized study comparing the efficacy and safety of infliximab with its biosimilar will be among the highlights of Digestive Disease Week (DDW) 2017.

"There are also some updates on the new inflammatory bowel disease treatments for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis," said Grace Elta, MD, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who is chair of the DDW council.

"There are a lot of new drugs in the pipeline, and there will be major updates on those trials," she told Medscape Medical News.

Another study will look at the genetic risk factors that could predict outcomes in people with decompensated hepatitis C virus cirrhosis.

And a meta-analysis will explore significant predictors of inadequate bowel prep prior to colonoscopy.

"It's actually like four meetings in one," said Dr Elta.

One of the major features of DDW is that it combines research and education from four different societies: the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE), and the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract (SSAT).

"There will be the latest and greatest research from all four societies," she noted.

Weight-Loss Controversy

AGA and ASGE research and education will focus on endoscopic bariatric treatments.

Endoscopic therapies include suturing to reduce the size of the stomach, endoscopic balloon placement, and AspireAssist, a gastrostomy tube that patients can use to empty some contents of their stomach after eating.

"This remains fairly controversial simply because surgical bariatric treatments have a longer track record with long-term success rates," Dr Elta explained.

"The question of long-term efficacy is raised, and many surgeons will say that it's not good long-term therapy," she added. "Why are we even doing it?" they will ask.

The problem with surgical bariatric therapy is that a very small percentage of patients who could benefit actually undergo the procedure. In the United States, it is typically less than 2%, she reported.

Endoscopic therapies just don't have the long-term success rate that bariatric surgery does, yet there is a huge gap between need and surgery, she explained. Endoscopy might therefore fill a gap — perhaps with the less morbidly obese patients.

Meeting App

Dr Elta suggests that attendees download the DDW 2017 app in advance to better navigate potential sessions of interest over the 4-day meeting. "The DDW app just keeps getting better and better every year. You can really look at the competing programming at any one time, see what you're interested in, and plan a program for yourself," she said. "It's very user friendly."

Another attendee-friendly feature of DDW programming, which debuted last year, is the arrangement of sessions and topics by track. Historically, DDW sessions were categorized primarily by society.

"A lot of attendees don't understand the power of the tracks," Dr Elta told Medscape Medical News. "For example, if you're interested in pancreatic disease, you can search the pancreas track. Whether it's an AGA session or an ASG session, it will be listed."

"Now even the poster hall is organized by track," she added.

Personal Favorites

"One of my favorite sessions, probably because I moderate it every year, is a session on the last afternoon, called Best of DDW," Dr Elta said. The program planner for each of the four societies at DDW selects the best research contributed by their members. "I love this session because there is no way to hear everything at the meeting, so you get a summary of what they think is best from their society."

"My other favorite sessions are the ASGE and AGA plenary sessions," she noted. These are a mixture of lectures and research chosen by each professional society. "I'm a gastroenterologist, so these are my personal favorites."

"Chicago is a great city. We usually have very good draw, particularly from international attendees. We have 15,000 attendees, and about half are international," Dr Elta reported. "Many people who come to DDW take the time to enjoy the art museums, the shopping, and the great restaurants."

Dr Elta is a consultant for Olympus.

Follow Medscape Gastroenterology on Twitter @MedscapeGastro and Damian McNamara @MedReporter

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