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  • Jefferson Adams

    Most People with Celiac Disease Open to Pharmaceutical Treatments

    Jefferson Adams
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    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Image: Wikimedia Commons
    Caption: Image: Wikimedia Commons

    Celiac.com 10/17/2013 - A gluten-free diet is till the only treatment for celiac disease, but a number of companies are working on pharmaceutical treatments. However, very little information exists bout the level of interest among patients in using a medication to treat celiac disease.

    Image: Wikimedia CommonsA research team set out to assess interest levels among patients in medical treatments for celiac disease. The research team included Christina A. Tennyson, Suzanne Simpson, Benjamin Lebwohl, Suzanne Lewis and Peter H. R. Green.



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    For their study, the researchers submitted a questionnaire to celiac disease patients and collected data on demographics, presentation, and interest in medication. The questionnaire included three validated celiac disease-specific instruments: Celiac Disease Associated Quality of Life, the Celiac Symptom Index, and the Celiac Dietary Adherence Test.

    The team received 365 responses from people with biopsy-proven celiac disease. A total of 276 women and 170 men over 50 years of age responded to the study. Of these respondents, 154 experienced classic, diarrhea predominant celiac disease. In all 339 people responded to the question asking if they were interested in using a medication to treat celiac disease, 66% of whom indicated that they were interested.

    The questionnaire responses broke down as follows:

    • Older people showed the greatest interest, with 71% of people over 50 years of age saying they were interested, compared with 60% of people under 50 years of age, (p = 0.0415).
    • More men (78%) than women (62%) women were interested (p = 0.0083).
    • People who ate out frequently (76%) showed a greater interest than those who did not (58%), p = 0.0006).
    • People dissatisfied with their weight showed greater interest (73%) than those satisfied with their weight (51%), (p = 0.0003)
    • Lastly, those concerned with gluten-free diet costs (77%) showed greater interest than those not concerned about gluten-free diet costs (64%), (p = 0.0176).

    Interestingly, the list of factors that did not seem to influence interest included length of time since diagnosis, education, presentation, and symptoms with gluten exposure.

    Overall, celiacs with lower quality of life scores showed a higher interest in medication (celiac disease-QOL 69.4 versus 80.1, p < 0.0001).

    This survey shows a fairly strong interest among people with celiac disease in non-dietary, medical treatments.

    Interest was highest among men, older individuals, frequent restaurant customers, individuals dissatisfied with their weight or concerned with the cost of a gluten-free diet, and those with a worse quality of life.

    Just how well any drugs developed to treat celiac disease might be received will likely depend on many factors, including efficacy, side-effects, cost, ease of use, etc.

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    Guest harparshantvir singh

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    Very well researched article. Indian herbal medicines have good results in celiac disease. Unfortunately people in western world don't seem to believe in this system of medicine.

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    Drug approvals are often fast-tracked by the FDA, and we later find out that they are not safe or effective. And some drugs have caused severe side effects, including many deaths. A few have been pulled from the market, but most have not. I am not interested in trying any new drugs. After several years, the safety and effectiveness, or serious risks of the drug will be more apparent. Then I might consider trying it, if it proves to be safe.

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    I think it is very important to find a cure. I am finding out how difficult my teenage daughter's life has become (and my life as well, trying to feed her) and am worried when she eats at others' houses and out at restaurants. This disease definitely affects quality of life!

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    I would welcome a drug treatment, depending upon side effects. I would take it prophalactically and still eat as little gluten as possible. I have to dine out a lot and the occassional error is painful for me.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.


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