People may find Crohn’s disease medication stops working after a certain time. This can happen as the condition changes and progresses. However, doctors could still help reduce their symptoms with other treatments.

Crohn’s disease (CD) is a type of inflammatory bowel disease. It is a long-term condition that can affect any part of a person’s digestive tract. People with CD often have inflammation and irritation in their small or large intestines.

Anybody can develop CD. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), more than 500,000 people in the United States have the condition.

There is no cure for CD — doctors usually aim to reduce a person’s symptoms and inflammation with medication first. They may use other treatments if someone has complications from CD or if the medication stops working.

This article discusses what happens if CD medications do not work, other treatments for CD, and some frequently asked questions.

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Treatments may stop working as a person’s CD changes and progresses. If this happens, doctors typically change an individual’s medication. They may also use other strategies to treat CD symptoms.

No single treatment works for every person with CD, as the method of managing each individual’s condition is different and depends on several factors.

Anti-inflammatory medications

One type of CD treatment is a class of anti-inflammatory medications called aminosalicylates, or 5-aminosalicylic acids (5-ASA). They include:

Doctors treat new CD diagnoses using aminosalicylates if the individual is experiencing mild symptoms. If one type of aminosalicylate does not work or stops working, doctors often try different kinds of aminosalicylate medication.

Doctors may also switch a person to a different kind of CD medication, such as steroids. Most people with CD need to eventually switch to medications such as immunomodulators or biologics.

However, scientists have questioned the effect of aminosalicylates in recent studies.


Steroids help decrease CD inflammation and reduce symptoms. Doctors typically prescribe them if aminosalicylates are ineffective or have stopped reducing CD symptoms.

They may also prescribe them for people with moderate to severe CD. However, doctors do not typically recommend them for long-term use.

These types of medications are also called corticosteroids and include:


Immunomodulators are medicines that reduce a person’s immune system activity. This decreases the inflammation in the digestive tract. They include:

Doctors may prescribe these for people with CD if other treatments are ineffective or stop working.


Biologic medications neutralize proteins that a person’s immune system produces. They help reduce inflammation in the intestines. They include:

Biologics help CD go into remission. Doctors may recommend them if other treatments have not worked or have stopped working.

Learn more about medications for irritable bowel disease.

Healthcare professionals can help someone know if they need to switch CD medications. Treatments for CD aim to reduce symptoms, prevent flare-ups, and keep the condition in remission.

A healthcare professional may recommend switching treatments if the medication is ineffective or if a person is experiencing serious or difficult to manage side effects.

If someone feels their current treatment has become less effective or is not reducing symptoms, they can speak with their healthcare professional. They can discuss whether to switch medications.

Doctors prescribe different treatments for people with CD, depending on symptoms. People may wish to ask about:

  • the risks, benefits, and side effects of different treatments
  • how different treatments will affect:
    • their ability to work, travel, and exercise
    • their lifestyle and relationships
    • their family planning and pregnancy
  • if other treatments are available and what they might involve
  • what they can do at home to ease CD symptoms
  • how to manage CD flares

Doctors may use treatments other than medication to help manage CD. People with the condition may require other treatments even if their medication does not stop working.

Bowel rest

People experiencing severe CD symptoms may need to rest their bowels for days or weeks. Bowel rest is when a person only drinks certain liquids or drinks and eats nothing, allowing their intestines to heal.

People may rest their bowels at home or the hospital. Doctors may give them nutrients through a feeding or intravenous tube that enters through a vein.


Doctors may use surgery to improve CD symptoms and treat complications from CD. Many people with the condition require surgery with medication. Doctors recommend surgery for:

  • fistulas, which are atypical connections between organs
  • life threatening bleeding
  • intestinal obstructions
  • hazardous side effects from medications
  • symptoms, if medications do not improve them

Some people may need more than one surgery over the course of their CD. Surgeons can perform many types of operations for those with the condition.

The following are some questions people frequently ask about medication for Crohn’s disease.

What is the strongest medication for Crohn’s disease?

Biological medications are stronger than other medicines for Crohn’s disease, such as steroids and immunosuppressants.

What happens when Remicade stops working?

Remicade is a biologic, monoclonal-antibody medication with the generic name infliximab. However, people’s bodies may develop antibodies against Remicade. If it stops working, doctors may test a person’s blood to see if they have these antibodies. Doctors may also increase a person’s dosage or switch them to a different medication.

What to do when Humira stops working?

If Humira stops working, doctors may:

  • increase a person’s dosage of Humira
  • give them injections of Humira more often
  • give them a different CD medication if their body has stopped responding to Humira

The generic name for Humira is adalimumab.

There are many different CD medications, but some may stop working as the condition changes and progresses.

If this happens, doctors can change the dosage or frequency of these medications. They may also switch someone to different types of CD medication. Doctors can also use other treatments, such as surgery, to treat symptoms.

Individuals can discuss all treatment options with a healthcare professional.