For certain people with moderate or severe inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), including ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD), vedolizumab is a medication that may be recommended.1-3 In the United States, vedolizumab is sold under the brand name Entyvio. It is a biologic therapy called an integrin receptor antagonist; the other medication of this type used to treat people with IBD is called natalizumab (Tysabri).
Vedolizumab is usually prescribed for adults with moderate-to-severe IBD for whom other anti-TNF medicines, corticosteroids, or immunomodulator medicines:3
- Do not work well enough
- Worked before, but have stopped working
- Cause a bad reaction
How does vedolizumab work?
Vedolizumab contains a special antibody that works to reduce the inflammatory process in the digestive tract, which can be overactive in people with IBD.1 White blood cells in a person’s body are part of the immune system’s inflammatory process, which triggers inflammation in response to problems such as infections in order to fight them off. The antibodies in vedolizumab target these white blood cells and block a certain protein on the surface of the cells, which then prevents them from traveling out of the blood vessels and into a person’s tissues.
Vedolizumab reduces inflammation in people with IBD by specifically affecting just the digestive tract.
For some people with moderate-to-severe IBD, taking vedolizumab can:2
- Relieve their symptoms
- Help them to enter remission
Who can take vedolizumab?
Before prescribing vedolizumab, patients need to let their healthcare providers know about any medications or supplements that they are taking.3 It is particularly important to let them know if you take or have recently taken an anti-TNF medicine, corticosteroid, or immunosuppressant. Women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding should advise their healthcare providers of this.
Vedolizumab affects a person’s immune system and its ability to fight infections. For this reason, healthcare providers need to know if you have an infection currently, or if you tend to get frequent or recurring infections. People taking vedolizumab are more likely to get serious infections, such as tuberculosis, so healthcare providers need to know if you have tuberculosis or have been in close contact with anyone who does. It is also important to make sure all of your vaccinations are up to date before starting treatment.3
What are the side effects that can be caused by vedolizumab?
The most common side effects that are experienced by people taking vedolizumab are:3
- Common cold
- Joint pain
- Nose or throat infections
- Back pain
- Sinus infection
- Throat pain
- Pain in the arms, legs, hands, or feet
In addition to increasing the risk of getting a serious infection, a small number of people taking vedolizumab may experience other kinds of serious reactions, including liver problems or allergic reactions. These are not all the possible side effects of vedolizumab. One rare report of Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML), an infection of the central nervous system, has been reported with Entyvio. Although unlikely, a risk of PML cannot be ruled out. Monitor patients for any new or worsening neurological signs or symptoms. (5.3)
Patients should talk to their doctor about what to expect with treatment with vedolizumab.