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Omega-3 Fatty Acids Don't Prevent Crohn's Relapse

No benefit over placebo in two randomized trials

TUESDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- Omega-3 free fatty acids are not effective in maintaining remission in patients with Crohn's disease, according to study findings published in the April 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Brian G. Feagan, M.D., of the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues enrolled patients with quiescent Crohn's disease in two double-blind, placebo-controlled trials: Epanova Program in Crohn's Study (EPIC)-1 and EPIC-2. A total of 738 patients were randomized to receive 4 g/day of omega-3 free fatty acids or placebo for up to 58 weeks. Relapse of Crohn's disease was defined using Crohn's Disease Activity Index scores.

Omega-3 fatty acids were not associated with improved maintenance of remission in either trial, the researchers report. Relapse occurred in 31.6 percent of the treatment group and in 35.7 percent in the placebo group in the EPIC-1 trial, and in 47.8 percent and 48.8 percent, respectively, in the EPIC-2 trial, both non-significant differences.

"Our results are important because the use of alternative medicines in general, and omega-3 free fatty acid formulations in particular, is widespread among patients with inflammatory bowel disease," write the authors, explaining that "patients with Crohn's disease who are at risk for relapse would be better served by taking medications of known efficacy."

This study was funded by Tillotts Pharma. In addition, several study authors report financial ties to a number of pharmaceutical companies.

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