Indacaterol–Glycopyrronium versus Salmeterol–Fluticasone for COPD


Most guidelines recommend either a long-acting beta-agonist (LABA) plus an inhaled glucocorticoid or a long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA) as the first-choice treatment for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who have a high risk of exacerbations. The role of treatment with a LABA–LAMA regimen in these patients is unclear.


We conducted a 52-week, randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, noninferiority trial. Patients who had COPD with a history of at least one exacerbation during the previous year were randomly assigned to receive, by inhalation, either the LABA indacaterol (110 μg) plus the LAMA glycopyrronium (50 μg) once daily or the LABA salmeterol (50 μg) plus the inhaled glucocorticoid fluticasone (500 μg) twice daily. The primary outcome was the annual rate of all COPD exacerbations.


A total of 1680 patients were assigned to the indacaterol–glycopyrronium group, and 1682 to the salmeterol–fluticasone group. Indacaterol–glycopyrronium showed not only noninferiority but also superiority to salmeterol–fluticasone in reducing the annual rate of all COPD exacerbations; the rate was 11% lower in the indacaterol–glycopyrronium group than in the salmeterol–fluticasone group (3.59 vs. 4.03; rate ratio, 0.89; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.83 to 0.96; P=0.003). The indacaterol–glycopyrronium group had a longer time to the first exacerbation than did the salmeterol–fluticasone group (71 days [95% CI, 60 to 82] vs. 51 days [95% CI, 46 to 57]; hazard ratio, 0.84 [95% CI, 0.78 to 0.91], representing a 16% lower risk; P<0.001). The annual rate of moderate or severe exacerbations was lower in the indacaterol–glycopyrronium group than in the salmeterol–fluticasone group (0.98 vs. 1.19; rate ratio, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.75 to 0.91; P<0.001), and the time to the first moderate or severe exacerbation was longer in the indacaterol–glycopyrronium group than in the salmeterol–fluticasone group (hazard ratio, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.70 to 0.86; P<0.001), as was the time to the first severe exacerbation (hazard ratio, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.66 to 1.00; P=0.046). The effect of indacaterol–glycopyrronium versus salmeterol–fluticasone on the rate of COPD exacerbations was independent of the baseline blood eosinophil count. The incidence of adverse events and deaths was similar in the two groups. The incidence of pneumonia was 3.2% in the indacaterol–glycopyrronium group and 4.8% in the salmeterol–fluticasone group (P=0.02).


Indacaterol–glycopyrronium was more effective than salmeterol–fluticasone in preventing COPD exacerbations in patients with a history of exacerbation during the previous year. (Funded by Novartis; FLAME number, NCT01782326.)

Association of Pharmacological Treatments for Obesity With Weight Loss and Adverse Events A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Importance  Five medications have been approved for the management of obesity, but data on comparative effectiveness are limited.

Objective  To compare weight loss and adverse events among drug treatments for obesity using a systematic review and network meta-analysis.

Data Sources  MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, Scopus, and Cochrane Central from inception to March 23, 2016; clinical trial registries.

Study Selection  Randomized clinical trials conducted among overweight and obese adults treated with US Food and Drug Administration–approved long-term weight loss agents (orlistat, lorcaserin, naltrexone-bupropion, phentermine-topiramate, or liraglutide) for at least 1 year compared with another active agent or placebo.

Data Extraction and Synthesis  Two investigators identified studies and independently abstracted data using a predefined protocol. A Bayesian network meta-analysis was performed and relative ranking of agents was assessed using surface under the cumulative ranking (SUCRA) probabilities. Quality of evidence was assessed using GRADE criteria.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Proportions of patients with at least 5% weight loss and at least 10% weight loss, magnitude of decrease in weight, and discontinuation of therapy because of adverse events at 1 year.

Results  Twenty-eight randomized clinical trials with 29 018 patients (median age, 46 years; 74% women; median baseline body weight, 100.5 kg; median baseline body mass index, 36.1) were included. A median 23% of placebo participants had at least 5% weight loss vs 75% of participants taking phentermine-topiramate (odds ratio [OR], 9.22; 95% credible interval [CrI], 6.63-12.85; SUCRA, 0.95), 63% of participants taking liraglutide (OR, 5.54; 95% CrI, 4.16-7.78; SUCRA, 0.83), 55% taking naltrexone-bupropion (OR, 3.96; 95% CrI, 3.03-5.11; SUCRA, 0.60), 49% taking lorcaserin (OR, 3.10; 95% CrI, 2.38-4.05; SUCRA, 0.39), and 44% taking orlistat (OR, 2.70; 95% CrI, 2.34-3.09; SUCRA, 0.22). All active agents were associated with significant excess weight loss compared with placebo at 1 year—phentermine-topiramate, 8.8 kg (95% CrI, −10.20 to −7.42 kg); liraglutide, 5.3 kg (95% CrI, −6.06 to −4.52 kg); naltrexone-bupropion, 5.0 kg (95% CrI, −5.94 to −3.96 kg); lorcaserin, 3.2 kg (95% CrI, −3.97 to −2.46 kg); and orlistat, 2.6 kg (95% CrI, −3.04 to −2.16 kg). Compared with placebo, liraglutide (OR, 2.95; 95% CrI, 2.11-4.23) and naltrexone-bupropion (OR, 2.64; 95% CrI, 2.10-3.35) were associated with the highest odds of adverse event–related treatment discontinuation. High attrition rates (30%-45% in all trials) were associated with lower confidence in estimates.

Conclusions and Relevance  Among overweight or obese adults, orlistat, lorcaserin, naltrexone-bupropion, phentermine-topiramate, and liraglutide, compared with placebo, were each associated with achieving at least 5% weight loss at 52 weeks. Phentermine-topiramate and liraglutide were associated with the highest odds of achieving at least 5% weight loss.

JAMA. 2016;315(22):2424-2434.

Prescription of Long-Acting Opioids and Mortality in Patients With Chronic Noncancer Pain

Importance  Long-acting opioids increase the risk of unintentional overdose deaths but also may increase mortality from cardiorespiratory and other causes.

Objective  To compare all-cause mortality for patients with chronic noncancer pain who were prescribed either long-acting opioids or alternative medications for moderate to severe chronic pain.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Retrospective cohort study between 1999 and 2012 of Tennessee Medicaid patients with chronic noncancer pain and no evidence of palliative or end-of-life care.

Exposures  Propensity score–matched new episodes of prescribed therapy for long-acting opioids or either analgesic anticonvulsants or low-dose cyclic antidepressants (control medications).

Main Outcomes and Measures  Total and cause-specific mortality as determined from death certificates. Adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and risk differences (difference in incidence of death) were calculated for long-acting opioid therapy vs control medication.

Results  There were 22 912 new episodes of prescribed therapy for both long-acting opioids and control medications (mean [SD] age, 48 [11] years; 60% women). The long-acting opioid group was followed up for a mean 176 days and had 185 deaths and the control treatment group was followed up for a mean 128 days and had 87 deaths. The HR for total mortality was 1.64 (95% CI, 1.26-2.12) with a risk difference of 68.5 excess deaths (95% CI, 28.2-120.7) per 10 000 person-years. Increased risk was due to out-of-hospital deaths (154 long-acting opioid, 60 control deaths; HR, 1.90; 95% CI, 1.40-2.58; risk difference, 67.1; 95% CI, 30.1-117.3) excess deaths per 10 000 person-years. For out-of-hospital deaths other than unintentional overdose (120 long-acting opioid, 53 control deaths), the HR was 1.72 (95% CI, 1.24-2.39) with a risk difference of 47.4 excess deaths (95% CI, 15.7-91.4) per 10 000 person-years. The HR for cardiovascular deaths (79 long-acting opioid, 36 control deaths) was 1.65 (95% CI, 1.10-2.46) with a risk difference of 28.9 excess deaths (95% CI, 4.6-65.3) per 10 000 person-years. The HR during the first 30 days of therapy (53 long-acting opioid, 13 control deaths) was 4.16 (95% CI, 2.27-7.63) with a risk difference of 200 excess deaths (95% CI, 80-420) per 10 000 person-years.

Conclusions and Relevance  Prescription of long-acting opioids for chronic noncancer pain, compared with anticonvulsants or cyclic antidepressants, was associated with a significantly increased risk of all-cause mortality, including deaths from causes other than overdose, with a modest absolute risk difference. These findings should be considered when evaluating harms and benefits of treatment.

JAMA. 2016;315(22):2415-2423.

Cardiovascular screening to reduce the burden from cardiovascular disease: microsimulation study to quantify policy options

Objectives To estimate the potential impact of universal screening for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (National Health Service Health Checks) on disease burden and socioeconomic inequalities in health in England, and to compare universal screening with alternative feasible strategies.

Design Microsimulation study of a close-to-reality synthetic population. Five scenarios were considered: baseline scenario, assuming that current trends in risk factors will continue in the future; universal screening; screening concentrated only in the most deprived areas; structural population-wide intervention; and combination of population-wide intervention and concentrated screening.

Setting Synthetic population with similar characteristics to the community dwelling population of England.

Participants Synthetic people with traits informed by the health survey for England.

Main outcome measure Cardiovascular disease cases and deaths prevented or postponed by 2030, stratified by fifths of socioeconomic status using the index of multiple deprivation.

Results Compared with the baseline scenario, universal screening may prevent or postpone approximately 19 000 cases (interquartile range 11 000-28 000) and 3000 deaths (−1000-6000); concentrated screening 17 000 cases (9000-26 000) and 2000 deaths (−1000-5000); population-wide intervention 67 000 cases (57 000-77 000) and 8000 deaths (4000-11 000); and the combination of the population-wide intervention and concentrated screening 82 000 cases (73 000-93 000) and 9000 deaths (6000-13 000). The most equitable strategy would be the combination of the population-wide intervention and concentrated screening, followed by concentrated screening alone and the population-wide intervention. Universal screening had the least apparent impact on socioeconomic inequalities in health.

Conclusions When primary prevention strategies for reducing cardiovascular disease burden and inequalities are compared, universal screening seems less effective than alternative strategies, which incorporate population-wide approaches. Further research is needed to identify the best mix of population-wide and risk targeted CVD strategies to maximise cost effectiveness and minimise inequalities.

BMJ 2016;353:i2793

Low dose oestrogen combined oral contraception and risk of pulmonary embolism, stroke, and myocardial infarction in five million French women: cohort study

Objective To assess the risk of pulmonary embolism, ischaemic stroke, and myocardial infarction associated with combined oral contraceptives according to dose of oestrogen (ethinylestradiol) and progestogen.

Design Observational cohort study.

Setting Data from the French national health insurance database linked with data from the French national hospital discharge database.

Participants 4 945 088 women aged 15-49 years, living in France, with at least one reimbursement for oral contraceptives and no previous hospital admission for cancer, pulmonary embolism, ischaemic stroke, or myocardial infarction, between July 2010 and September 2012.

Main outcome measures Relative and absolute risks of first pulmonary embolism, ischaemic stroke, and myocardial infarction.

Results The cohort generated 5 443 916 women years of oral contraceptive use, and 3253 events were observed: 1800 pulmonary embolisms (33 per 100 000 women years), 1046 ischaemic strokes (19 per 100 000 women years), and 407 myocardial infarctions (7 per 100 000 women years). After adjustment for progestogen and risk factors, the relative risks for women using low dose oestrogen (20 µg v 30-40 µg) were 0.75 (95% confidence interval 0.67 to 0.85) for pulmonary embolism, 0.82 (0.70 to 0.96) for ischaemic stroke, and 0.56 (0.39 to 0.79) for myocardial infarction. After adjustment for oestrogen dose and risk factors, desogestrel and gestodene were associated with statistically significantly higher relative risks for pulmonary embolism (2.16, 1.93 to 2.41 and 1.63, 1.34 to 1.97, respectively) compared with levonorgestrel. Levonorgestrel combined with 20 µg oestrogen was associated with a statistically significantly lower risk than levonorgestrel with 30-40 µg oestrogen for each of the three serious adverse events.

Conclusions For the same dose of oestrogen, desogestrel and gestodene were associated with statistically significantly higher risks of pulmonary embolism but not arterial thromboembolism compared with levonorgestrel. For the same type of progestogen, an oestrogen dose of 20 µg versus 30-40 µg was associated with lower risks of pulmonary embolism, ischaemic stroke, and myocardial infarction.

BMJ 2016;353:i2002

Clinical workload in UK primary care: a retrospective analysis of 100 million consultations in England, 2007–14


Primary care is the main source of health care in many health systems, including the UK National Health Service (NHS), but few objective data exist for the volume and nature of primary care activity. With rising concerns that NHS primary care workload has increased substantially, we aimed to assess the direct clinical workload of general practitioners (GPs) and practice nurses in primary care in the UK.


We did a retrospective analysis of GP and nurse consultations of non-temporary patients registered at 398 English general practices between April, 2007, and March, 2014. We used data from electronic health records routinely entered in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, and linked CPRD data to national datasets. Trends in age-standardised and sex-standardised consultation rates were modelled with joinpoint regression analysis.


The dataset comprised 101 818 352 consultations and 20 626 297 person-years of observation. The crude annual consultation rate per person increased by 10·51%, from 4·67 in 2007–08, to 5·16 in 2013–14. Consultation rates were highest in infants (age 0–4 years) and elderly people (≥85 years), and were higher for female patients than for male patients of all ages. The greatest increases in age-standardised and sex-standardised rates were in GPs, with a rise of 12·36% per 10 000 person-years, compared with 0·9% for practice nurses. GP telephone consultation rates doubled, compared with a 5·20% rise in surgery consultations, which accounted for 90% of all consultations. The mean duration of GP surgery consultations increased by 6·7%, from 8·65 min (95% CI 8·64–8·65) to 9·22 min (9·22–9·23), and overall workload increased by 16%.


Our findings show a substantial increase in practice consultation rates, average consultation duration, and total patient-facing clinical workload in English general practice. These results suggest that English primary care as currently delivered could be reaching saturation point. Notably, our data only explore direct clinical workload and not indirect activities and professional duties, which have probably also increased. This and additional research questions, including the outcomes of workload changes on other sectors of health care, need urgent answers for primary care provision internationally.


Department of Health Policy Research Programme.

The lancet, Volume 387, No. 10035, p2323–2330, 4 June 2016

The novel biomarker-based ABC (age, biomarkers, clinical history)-bleeding risk score for patients with atrial fibrillation: a derivation and validation study


The benefit of oral anticoagulation in atrial fibrillation is based on a balance between reduction in ischaemic stroke and increase in major bleeding. We aimed to develop and validate a new biomarker-based risk score to improve the prognostication of major bleeding in patients with atrial fibrillation.


We developed and internally validated a new biomarker-based risk score for major bleeding in 14 537 patients with atrial fibrillation randomised to apixaban versus warfarin in the ARISTOTLE trial and externally validated it in 8468 patients with atrial fibrillation randomised to dabigatran versus warfarin in the RE-LY trial. Plasma samples for determination of candidate biomarker concentrations were obtained at randomisation. Major bleeding events were centrally adjudicated. The predictive values of biomarkers and clinical variables were assessed with Cox regression models. The most important variables were included in the score with weights proportional to the model coefficients. The ARISTOTLE and RE-LY trials are registered with, numbers NCT00412984 andNCT00262600, respectively.


The most important predictors for major bleeding were the concentrations of the biomarkers growth differentiation factor-15 (GDF-15), high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T (cTnT-hs) and haemoglobin, age, and previous bleeding. The ABC-bleeding score (age, biomarkers [GDF-15, cTnT-hs, and haemoglobin], and clinical history [previous bleeding]) score yielded a higher c-index than the conventional HAS-BLED and the newer ORBIT scores for major bleeding in both the derivation cohort (0·68 [95% CI 0·66–0·70] vs 0·61 [0·59–0·63] vs 0·65 [0·62–0·67], respectively; ABC-bleeding vs HAS-BLED p<0·0001 and ABC-bleeding vs ORBIT p=0·0008). ABC-bleeding score also yielded a higher c-index score in the the external validation cohort (0·71 [95% CI 0·68–0·73] vs 0·62 [0·59–0·64] for HAS-BLED vs0·68 [0·65–0·70] for ORBIT; ABC-bleeding vs HAS-BLED p<0·0001 and ABC-bleeding vs ORBIT p=0·0016). A modified ABC-bleeding score using alternative biomarkers (haematocrit, cTnI-hs, cystatin C, or creatinine clearance) also outperformed the HAS-BLED and ORBIT scores.


The ABC-bleeding score, using age, history of bleeding, and three biomarkers (haemoglobin, cTn-hs, and GDF-15 or cystatin C/CKD-EPI) was internally and externally validated and calibrated in large cohorts of patients with atrial fibrillation receiving anticoagulation therapy. The ABC-bleeding score performed better than HAS-BLED and ORBIT scores and should be useful as decision support on anticoagulation treatment in patients with atrial fibrillation.


BMS, Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Roche Diagnostics.