Background: In 2007, leading international experts in the field of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) recommended intravenous (IV) iron supplements over oral (PO) ones because of superior effectiveness and better tolerance. We aimed to determine the percentage of patients with IBD undergoing iron therapy and to assess the dynamics of iron prescription habits (IV versus PO).
Methods: We analyzed anonymized data on patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis extracted from the Helsana database. Helsana is a Swiss health insurance company providing coverage for 18% of the Swiss population (1.2 million individuals).
Results: In total, 629 patients with Crohn’s disease (61% female) and 398 patients with ulcerative colitis (57% female) were identified; mean observation time was 31.8 months for Crohn’s disease and 31.0 months for ulcerative colitis patients. Of all patients with IBD, 27.1% were prescribed iron (21.1% in males; 31.1% in females). Patients treated with steroids, immunomodulators, and/or anti–tumor necrosis factor drugs were more frequently treated with iron supplements when compared with those not treated with any medications (35.0% versus 20.9%, odds ratio, 1.94; P < 0.001). The frequency of IV iron prescriptions increased significantly from 2006 to 2009 for both genders (males: from 2.6% to 10.1%, odds ratio = 3.84, P < 0.001; females: from 5.3% to 12.1%, odds ratio = 2.26, P = 0.002), whereas the percentage of PO iron prescriptions did not change.
Conclusions: Twenty-seven percent of patients with IBD were treated with iron supplements. Iron supplements administered IV were prescribed more frequently over time. These prescription habits are consistent with the implementation of guidelines on the management of iron deficiency in IBD.