Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2011; 33: 313–322


Background  Comparative data regarding different regimens of oral mesalazine (mesalamine) for maintaining remission in ulcerative colitis are limited.

Aim  To evaluate whether 3.0 g mesalazine once-daily (OD) is superior to the standard treatment of 0.5 g mesalazine three times daily (t.d.s.) and to prove the therapeutic equivalence of OD vs. t.d.s. dosing of total 1.5 g mesalazine for remission maintenance in patients with ulcerative colitis.

Methods  A 1-year, multicentre, double-blind, double-dummy study was undertaken in patients with endoscopically and histologically confirmed ulcerative colitis in remission. Patients were randomised to oral mesalazine 3.0 g OD, 1.5 g OD or 0.5 g t.d.s. The primary efficacy endpoint was the proportion of patients still in clinical remission at the final visit, with clinical relapse being defined as CAI score >4 and an increase of ≥3 from baseline.

Results  The primary efficacy endpoint occurred in 162/217 3.0 g OD patients (75%), 129/212 1.5 g OD patients (61%) and 150/218 0.5 g t.d.s. patients (69%) in the intention-to-treat population, and in 152/177 (86%), 121/182 (67%) and 144/185 (78%) in the per protocol population respectively; 3.0 g OD was superior to both low-dose regimens for the primary endpoint (i.e. P < 0.001, 3.0 g OD vs. 1.5 g OD; P = 0.024, 3.0 g OD vs. 0.5 g t.d.s.; superiority test, per protocol population). Safety analysis, including comprehensive renal monitoring, revealed no concern in any treatment group.

Conclusion  Mesalazine 3.0 g once daily was the most effective dose for maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis of the three regimens assessed, with no penalty in terms of safety.