Use of azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine in the treatment of Crohn's disease

John J. O'Brien, Theodore M. Bayless, Jeffrey A. Bayless

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


The efficacy and safety of therapy with azathioprine/6-mercaptopurine was studied in 78 patients with Crohn's disease. Mean duration of therapy was 1.6 years; 52 patients were treated ≥ 6 months. All patients were also on other antiinflammatory medications. Evaluations included self-assessment and physician's assessment of well-being, functional capacity, general clinical response, clinical activities indices (National Foundation for Ileitis and Colitis/International Organization for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Harvey-Bradshaw), and achievement of specific therapeutic goals. General clinical condition improved in 70% of the patients. Median response time was 3 months. The average Harvey-Bradshaw score decreased 37% with therapy, and a decrease of ≥ 30% occurred in 66% of the subjects. An overall 72% achievement rate for specified therapeutic goals included controlling refractory disease, 73%; corticosteroid "sparing," 76%; and lessening fistulization, 63%. Nine patients got worse despite therapy. Adverse effects requiring discontinuation of therapy occurred in 10%, whereas dosages were briefly lowered for mild side effects in another 10%. This study demonstrates the effectiveness and safety of azathioprine/6-mercaptopurine in the majority of selected patients with chronic, unremitting, or steroid-requiring Crohn's disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-46
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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