GAfPA Attends 12th Annual Congress of the European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation

GAfPA Attends 12th Annual Congress of the European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation

‘Advancing knowledge, improving care’ – that was the resounding theme of the 12th congress of the European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation.


Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease, but also among the least known immune-mediated diseases.  So scientific sessions and presentations explored not only the clinical aspects of IBD, Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, but also broader contextual issues: environmental factors, societal issues and quality of life for individuals with these conditions.


A record number of scientific abstracts were submitted this year – 922. And GAfPA was there for it all, along with the European Federation of Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis Associations (EFCCA). EFCCA, a patient group network, is partnering with GAfPA to deliver workshops on biologics and biosimilars in different European regions throughout 2017.


Day One

Prof Javier Ginsberg and Prof Julián Panēs’ welcome shone a spotlight on the newly-developed guidelines about the use of biologics and biosimilars, produced jointly by ECCO and EFCCA. The notion that physicians and patient representatives work together to determine best practices for managing conditions like IBD is an important part of the ethos of GAfPA. GAfPA applauds the Crohn’s and Colitis community for helping to lead the way in this regard.
The guidelines stemmed from a December 2014 meeting organized by ECCO with IBD Patient Association Representatives from EFCCA and ECCO National Representatives (both nurses and physicians). Patients, physicians and nurses met in focus groups and reviewed topics of high relevance to patients. The overall consensus was the imminent need for patient guidelines.


Day Two

The core scientific programme officially began on Thursday, 16 February. It was structured around basic science, translational medicine and clinical sessions, given by some of the world’s most renowned specialists. It also included:


  • Oral presentations of the best abstracts
  • The announcement of ECCO Fellowships and Grants
  • Summary presentations of new ECCO Guidelines.


The focus of all sessions is clinical practice founded on science, with practical messages to take home.
Issues surrounding the appropriate use of biologics and biosimilars in managing IBD was a hot topic, in both the satellite symposia and the scientific programme itself. One symposium, for example, reported on the recently published NOR-SWITH study carried out in Oslo. To see GAfPA’s report on this study, click here.


Treatments for Patients
The scientific programme provided a good deal of encouragement regarding new treatments already available in many countries, as well as pipeline therapies. In terms of well-established products, for example, an independent evaluation of adalimumab showed it to be highly effective in anti-TNF naive paediatric Crohn’s Disease patients. For children and young people, IBD can be especially challenging, with psychological support often a necessary factor in coping, so the possibility of treatment options being extended is particularly welcome.
Whilst in terms of new treatments, Prof. Séverine Vermeire presented evidence from the FITZROY study. This showed that fligotinib maintains after 20 weeks of treatment despite mandatory steroid tapering. It also shows it to have a marked improvement on patients’ quality of life (IBDQ) and has a favourable risk / benefit profile.
But the programme was not monopolised by therapeutic issues. The nature of IBD is such that environmental factors play a huge part in the understanding of the diseases. There were several presentations providing new evidence about just how societal factors such as smoking, sedentary lifestyles, stress and fatigue can exacerbate the condition unless patients are well supported to self-manage.
Overall, ECCO 2017 should be considered an outstanding success based on the high level of participation and the quality of the presentations.
Neil Betteridge

Global Alliance for Patient Access

February 2017

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