Effectiveness of fluticasone furoate plus vilanterol on asthma control in clinical practice

Background

Evidence for management of asthma comes from closely monitored efficacy trials done in highly selected patient groups. There is a need for randomised trials that are closer to usual clinical practice.

Methods

We did an open-label, randomised, controlled, two-arm effectiveness trial at 74 general practice clinics in Salford and South Manchester, UK. Patients aged 18 years or older with a general practitioner’s diagnosis of symptomatic asthma and on maintenance inhaler therapy were randomly assigned to initiate treatment with a once-daily inhaled combination of either 100 μg or 200 μg fluticasone furoate with 25 μg vilanterol or optimised usual care and followed up for 12 months. The primary endpoint was the percentage of patients who achieved an asthma control test (ACT) score of 20 or greater or an increase in ACT score from baseline of 3 or greater at 24 weeks (termed responders), in patients with a baseline ACT score less than 20 (the primary effectiveness analysis population). All effectiveness analyses were done according to the intention-to-treat principle. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01706198.

Findings

Between Nov 12, 2012, and Dec 16, 2016, 4725 patients were enrolled and 4233 randomly assigned to initiate treatment with fluticasone furoate and vilanterol (n=2114) or usual care (n=2119). 1207 patients (605 assigned to usual care, 602 to fluticasone furoate and vilanterol) had a baseline ACT score greater than or equal to 20 and were thus excluded from the primary effectiveness analysis population. At week 24, the odds of being a responder were higher for patients who initiated treatment with fluticasone furoate and vilanterol than for those on usual care (977 [71%] of 1373 in the fluticasone furoate and vilanterol group vs 784 [56%] of 1399 in the usual care group; odds ratio [OR] 2·00 [95% CI 1·70–2·34], p<0·0001). At week 24, the adjusted mean ACT score increased by 4·4 points from baseline in patients initiated with fluticasone furoate and vilanterol, compared with 2·8 points in the usual care group (difference 1·6 [95% CI 1·3–2·0], p<0·0001). This result was consistent for the duration of the study. Pneumonia was uncommon, with no differences between groups; there was no difference in other serious adverse events between the groups.

Interpretation

In patients with a general practitioner’s diagnosis of symptomatic asthma and on maintenance inhaler therapy, initiation of a once-daily treatment regimen of combined fluticasone furoate and vilanterol improved asthma control without increasing the risk of serious adverse events when compared with optimised usual care.

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Effect of azithromycin on asthma exacerbations and quality of life in adults with persistent uncontrolled asthma (AMAZES): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Background

Exacerbations of asthma cause a substantial global illness burden. Adults with uncontrolled persistent asthma despite maintenance treatment require additional therapy. Since macrolide antibiotics can be used to treat persistent asthma, we aimed to assess the efficacy and safety of oral azithromycin as add-on therapy in patients with uncontrolled persistent asthma on medium-to-high dose inhaled corticosteroids plus a long-acting bronchodilator.

Methods

We did a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled parallel group trial to determine whether oral azithromycin decreases the frequency of asthma exacerbations in adults (≥18 years) with symptomatic asthma despite current use of inhaled corticosteroid and long-acting bronchodilator, and who had no hearing impairment or abnormal prolongation of the corrected QT interval. Patients were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive azithromycin 500 mg or placebo three times per week for 48 weeks. Patients were centrally allocated using concealed random allocation from a computer-generated random numbers table with permuted blocks of 4 or 6 and stratification for centre and past smoking. Primary efficacy endpoints were the rate of total (severe and moderate) asthma exacerbations over 48 weeks and asthma quality of life. Data were analysed on an intention-to-treat basis. The trial is registered at the Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR), number 12609000197235.

Findings

Between June 12, 2009, and Jan 31, 2015, 420 patients were randomly assigned (213 in the azithromycin group and 207 in the placebo group). Azithromycin reduced asthma exacerbations (1·07 per patient-year [95% CI 0·85–1·29]) compared with placebo (1·86 per patient-year [1·54–2·18]; incidence rate ratio [IRR] 0·59 [95% CI 0·47–0·74]; p<0·0001). The proportion of patients experiencing at least one asthma exacerbation was reduced by azithromycin treatment (127 [61%] patients in the placebo group vs 94 [44%] patients in the azithromycin group, p<0·0001). Azithromycin significantly improved asthma-related quality of life (adjusted mean difference, 0·36 [95% CI 0·21–0·52]; p=0·001). Diarrhoea was more common in azithromycin-treated patients (72 [34%] vs 39 [19%]; p=0·001).

Interpretation

Adults with persistent symptomatic asthma experience fewer asthma exacerbations and improved quality of life when treated with oral azithromycin for 48 weeks. Azithromycin might be a useful add-on therapy in persistent asthma.

Funding

National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, John Hunter Hospital Charitable Trust.

Reference: The Lancet, Volume 390, No. 10095, p659–668, 12 August 2017

Oral Glucocorticoid–Sparing Effect of Benralizumab in Severe Asthma

BACKGROUND

Many patients with severe asthma rely on oral glucocorticoids to manage their disease. We investigated whether benralizumab, a monoclonal antibody directed against the alpha subunit of the interleukin-5 receptor that significantly reduces the incidence of asthma exacerbations, was also effective as an oral glucocorticoid–sparing therapy in patients relying on oral glucocorticoids to manage severe asthma associated with eosinophilia.

METHODS

In a 28-week randomized, controlled trial, we assessed the effects of benralizumab (at a dose of 30 mg administered subcutaneously either every 4 weeks or every 8 weeks [with the first three doses administered every 4 weeks]) versus placebo on the reduction in the oral glucocorticoid dose while asthma control was maintained in adult patients with severe asthma. The primary end point was the percentage change in the oral glucocorticoid dose from baseline to week 28. Annual asthma exacerbation rates, lung function, symptoms, and safety were assessed.

RESULTS

Of 369 patients enrolled, 220 underwent randomization and started receiving benralizumab or placebo. The two benralizumab dosing regimens significantly reduced the median final oral glucocorticoid doses from baseline by 75%, as compared with a reduction of 25% in the oral glucocorticoid doses in the placebo group (P<0.001 for both comparisons). The odds of a reduction in the oral glucocorticoid dose were more than 4 times as high with benralizumab as with placebo. Among the secondary outcomes, benralizumab administered every 4 weeks resulted in an annual exacerbation rate that was 55% lower than the rate with placebo (marginal rate, 0.83 vs. 1.83, P=0.003), and benralizumab administered every 8 weeks resulted in an annual exacerbation rate that was 70% lower than the rate with placebo (marginal rate, 0.54 vs. 1.83, P<0.001). At 28 weeks, there was no significant effect of either benralizumab regimen on the forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), as compared with placebo. The effects on various measures of asthma symptoms were mixed, with some showing significant changes in favor of benralizumab and others not showing significant changes. Frequencies of adverse events were similar between each benralizumab group and the placebo group.

CONCLUSIONS

Benralizumab showed significant, clinically relevant benefits, as compared with placebo, on oral glucocorticoid use and exacerbation rates. These effects occurred without a sustained effect on the FEV1. (Funded by AstraZeneca; ZONDA ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02075255.)

Reference: N Engl J Med 2017; 376:2448-2458June 22, 2017

Should recommendations about starting inhaled corticosteroid treatment for mild asthma be based on symptom frequency: a post-hoc efficacy analysis of the START study

Background

Low-dose inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) are highly effective for reducing asthma exacerbations and mortality. Conventionally, ICS treatment is recommended for patients with symptoms on more than 2 days per week, but this criterion has scant evidence. We aimed to assess the validity of the previous symptom-based cutoff for starting ICS by establishing whether there was a differential response to budesonide versus placebo for severe asthma exacerbations, lung function, and asthma symptom control across subgroups identified by baseline asthma symptom frequency.

Methods

We did a post-hoc analysis of the 3 year inhaled Steroid Treatment As Regular Therapy (START) study, done in 32 countries, with clinic visits every 3 months. Patients (aged 4–66 years) with mild asthma diagnosed within the previous 2 years and no previous regular corticosteroids were randomised to receive once daily, inhaled budesonide 400 μg (those aged <11 years 200 μg) or placebo. Coprimary outcomes for this analysis were time to first severe asthma-related event (SARE; hospital admission, emergency treatment, or death) and change from baseline in lung function after bronchodilator. Interaction with baseline symptom frequency was investigated, with patients grouped by more than two symptom days per week and two or fewer symptom days per week (divided into no days to 1 day, and more than 1 day to 2 days). Analysis was done by intention to treat.

Findings

Of 7138 patients (n=3577 budesonide; n=3561 placebo), baseline symptom frequency was 0–1 days per week for 2184 (31%) participants, more than 1 and less than or equal to 2 symptom days per week for 1914 (27%) participants, and more than 2 symptom days per week for 3040 (43%) participants. For budesonide versus placebo, time to first SARE was longer across symptom frequency subgroups (hazard ratios 0·54 [95% CI 0·34–0·86] for 0–1 symptom days per week, 0·60 [0·39–0·93] for >1 to ≤2 symptom days per week, 0·57 [0·41–0·79] >2 symptom days per week, pinteraction=0·94), and the decline in postbronchodilator lung function was less at 3 years’ follow-up (pinteraction=0·32). For budesonide versus placebo, severe exacerbations requiring oral or systemic corticosteroids were reduced (rate ratio 0·48 [0·38–0·61] 0–1 symptom days per week, 0·56 [0·44–0·71] >1 to ≤2 symptom days per week, and 0·66 [0·55–0·80] >2 symptom days per week, pinteraction=0·11), prebronchodilator lung function was higher, and symptom-free days were more frequent (p<0·0001 for all three subgroups), with no interaction by symptom frequency (prebronchodilator pinteraction=0·43; symptom-free days pinteraction=0·53). Similar results were noted when participants were classified by any guidelines criterion as so-called persistent versus so-called intermittent asthma.

Interpretation

In mild recent-onset asthma, once daily, low-dose budesonide decreases SARE risk, reduces lung function decline, and improves symptom control similarly across all symptom subgroups. The results do not support restriction of inhaled corticosteroids to patients with symptoms on more than 2 days per week and suggest that treatment recommendations for mild asthma should consider both risk reduction and symptoms.

Funding

AstraZeneca.

The Lancet, Volume 389, No. 10065, p157–166, 14 January 2017

Reevaluation of Diagnosis in Adults With Physician-Diagnosed Asthma

Key Points

Question  Can current asthma be ruled out and can asthma medications be safely stopped in some adult patients with physician-diagnosed asthma?

Findings  In this multicenter cohort study that enrolled 701 randomly selected adults with physician-diagnosed asthma, current asthma was excluded in 33% of the 613 participants who completed the study.

Meaning  Among some adult patients with physician-diagnosed asthma, reassessing that diagnosis may be warranted.

Abstract

Importance  Although asthma is a chronic disease, the expected rate of spontaneous remissions of adult asthma and the stability of diagnosis are unknown.

Objective  To determine whether a diagnosis of current asthma could be ruled out and asthma medications safely stopped in randomly selected adults with physician-diagnosed asthma.

Design, Setting, and Participants  A prospective, multicenter cohort study was conducted in 10 Canadian cities from January 2012 to February 2016. Random digit dialing was used to recruit adult participants who reported a history of physician-diagnosed asthma established within the past 5 years. Participants using long-term oral steroids and participants unable to be tested using spirometry were excluded. Information from the diagnosing physician was obtained to determine how the diagnosis of asthma was originally made in the community. Of 1026 potential participants who fulfilled eligibility criteria during telephone screening, 701 (68.3%) agreed to enter into the study. All participants were assessed with home peak flow and symptom monitoring, spirometry, and serial bronchial challenge tests, and those participants using daily asthma medications had their medications gradually tapered off over 4 study visits. Participants in whom a diagnosis of current asthma was ultimately ruled out were followed up clinically with repeated bronchial challenge tests over 1 year.

Exposure  Physician-diagnosed asthma established within the past 5 years.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The primary outcome was the proportion of participants in whom a diagnosis of current asthma was ruled out, defined as participants who exhibited no evidence of acute worsening of asthma symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, or bronchial hyperresponsiveness after having all asthma medications tapered off and after a study pulmonologist established an alternative diagnosis. Secondary outcomes included the proportion with asthma ruled out after 12 months and the proportion who underwent an appropriate initial diagnostic workup for asthma in the community.

Results  Of 701 participants (mean [SD] age, 51 [16] years; 467 women [67%]), 613 completed the study and could be conclusively evaluated for a diagnosis of current asthma. Current asthma was ruled out in 203 of 613 study participants (33.1%; 95% CI, 29.4%-36.8%). Twelve participants (2.0%) were found to have serious cardiorespiratory conditions that had been previously misdiagnosed as asthma in the community. After an additional 12 months of follow-up, 181 participants (29.5%; 95% CI, 25.9%-33.1%) continued to exhibit no clinical or laboratory evidence of asthma. Participants in whom current asthma was ruled out, compared with those in whom it was confirmed, were less likely to have undergone testing for airflow limitation in the community at the time of initial diagnosis (43.8% vs 55.6%, respectively; absolute difference, 11.8%; 95% CI, 2.1%-21.5%).

Conclusions and Relevance  Among adults with physician-diagnosed asthma, a current diagnosis of asthma could not be established in 33.1% who were not using daily asthma medications or had medications weaned. In patients such as these, reassessing the asthma diagnosis may be warranted.

JAMA. 2017;317(3):269-279

Fish Oil–Derived Fatty Acids in Pregnancy and Wheeze and Asthma in Offspring

BACKGROUND

Reduced intake of n−3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) may be a contributing factor to the increasing prevalence of wheezing disorders. We assessed the effect of supplementation with n−3 LCPUFAs in pregnant women on the risk of persistent wheeze and asthma in their offspring.

METHODS

We randomly assigned 736 pregnant women at 24 weeks of gestation to receive 2.4 g of n−3 LCPUFA (fish oil) or placebo (olive oil) per day. Their children formed the Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood2010 (COPSAC2010) cohort and were followed prospectively with extensive clinical phenotyping. Neither the investigators nor the participants were aware of group assignments during follow-up for the first 3 years of the children’s lives, after which there was a 2-year follow-up period during which only the investigators were unaware of group assignments. The primary end point was persistent wheeze or asthma, and the secondary end points included lower respiratory tract infections, asthma exacerbations, eczema, and allergic sensitization.

RESULTS

A total of 695 children were included in the trial, and 95.5% completed the 3-year, double-blind follow-up period. The risk of persistent wheeze or asthma in the treatment group was 16.9%, versus 23.7% in the control group (hazard ratio, 0.69; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.49 to 0.97; P=0.035), corresponding to a relative reduction of 30.7%. Prespecified subgroup analyses suggested that the effect was strongest in the children of women whose blood levels of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid were in the lowest third of the trial population at randomization: 17.5% versus 34.1% (hazard ratio, 0.46; 95% CI, 0.25 to 0.83; P=0.011). Analyses of secondary end points showed that supplementation with n−3 LCPUFA was associated with a reduced risk of infections of the lower respiratory tract (31.7% vs. 39.1%; hazard ratio, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.58 to 0.98; P=0.033), but there was no statistically significant association between supplementation and asthma exacerbations, eczema, or allergic sensitization.

CONCLUSIONS

Supplementation with n−3 LCPUFA in the third trimester of pregnancy reduced the absolute risk of persistent wheeze or asthma and infections of the lower respiratory tract in offspring by approximately 7 percentage points, or one third. (Funded by the Lundbeck Foundation and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00798226.)

Serious Asthma Events with Budesonide plus Formoterol vs. Budesonide Alone

BACKGROUND

Concerns remain about the safety of adding long-acting β2-agonists to inhaled glucocorticoids for the treatment of asthma. In a postmarketing safety study mandated by the Food and Drug Administration, we evaluated whether the addition of formoterol to budesonide maintenance therapy increased the risk of serious asthma-related events in patients with asthma.

METHODS

In this multicenter, double-blind, 26-week study, we randomly assigned patients, 12 years of age or older, who had persistent asthma, were receiving daily asthma medication, and had had one to four asthma exacerbations in the previous year to receive budesonide–formoterol or budesonide alone. Patients with a history of life-threatening asthma were excluded. The primary end point was the first serious asthma-related event (a composite of adjudicated death, intubation, and hospitalization), as assessed in a time-to-event analysis. The noninferiority of budesonide–formoterol to budesonide was defined as an upper limit of the 95% confidence interval for the risk of the primary safety end point of less than 2.0. The primary efficacy end point was the first asthma exacerbation, as assessed in a time-to-event analysis.

RESULTS

A total of 11,693 patients underwent randomization, of whom 5846 were assigned to receive budesonide–formoterol and 5847 to receive budesonide. A serious asthma-related event occurred in 43 patients who were receiving budesonide–formoterol and in 40 patients who were receiving budesonide (hazard ratio, 1.07; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.70 to 1.65]); budesonide–formoterol was shown to be noninferior to budesonide alone. There were two asthma-related deaths, both in the budesonide–formoterol group; one of these patients had undergone an asthma-related intubation. The risk of an asthma exacerbation was 16.5% lower with budesonide–formoterol than with budesonide (hazard ratio, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.74 to 0.94; P=0.002).

CONCLUSIONS

Among adolescents and adults with predominantly moderate-to-severe asthma, treatment with budesonide–formoterol was associated with a lower risk of asthma exacerbations than budesonide and a similar risk of serious asthma-related events. (Funded by AstraZeneca; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01444430.)