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This article is the author's final published version in BMC Gastroenterology, Volume 24, Issue 1, 2024, Article number 18.

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Copyright © The Author(s) 2024


BACKGROUND: Ursodeoxycholic acid is the preferred first-line therapy for primary biliary cholangitis. Alternative therapies, such as obeticholic acid, are recommended for patients who cannot tolerate ursodeoxycholic acid or who have an inadequate response to ursodeoxycholic acid monotherapy. Prior investigations have suggested that as many as 30% of patients with primary biliary cholangitis may have never received treatment with ursodeoxycholic acid. No prior investigations have examined usage rates of obeticholic acid in the treatment of primary biliary cholangitis.

METHODS: All patients with an ICD-10 diagnosis of primary biliary cholangitis who had any records within the health system were included. A review of medical records was performed to confirm the diagnosis of primary biliary cholangitis and determine which medications had been prescribed for treatment, as well as candidacy for second-line therapies.

RESULTS: A total of 495 patients met inclusion criteria. Notably, 95% of patients were taking ursodeoxycholic acid for treatment of their primary biliary cholangitis, with 67% of patients having disease that was well-controlled on ursodeoxycholic acid monotherapy. In total, 8% of patients were taking obeticholic acid (either as combination or monotherapy). Only 3% would benefit from the addition of a second line therapy but had not yet been offered medication. Only 3% of patients were not on any medication for management of their primary biliary cholangitis.

CONCLUSIONS: Ursodeoxycholic acid is a readily available and generally well-tolerated medication that should be offered to all patients with primary biliary cholangitis as first-line therapy. While prior investigations have suggested that up to 30% of patients with primary biliary cholangitis may never have received treatment for the disorder, the present study suggests that patients are generally being managed according to guidelines. Moreover, a significant proportion of patients with primary biliary cholangitis will qualify for second line therapies and prescribers should be aware of the indications to use these medications.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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