Clinical efficacy and safety of achieving very low LDL-cholesterol concentrations with the PCSK9 inhibitor evolocumab: a prespecified secondary analysis of the FOURIER trial

Background

LDL cholesterol is a well established risk factor for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. How much one should or safely can lower this risk factor remains debated. We aimed to explore the relationship between progressively lower LDL-cholesterol concentrations achieved at 4 weeks and clinical efficacy and safety in the FOURIER trial of evolocumab, a monoclonal antibody to proprotein convertase subtilisin-kexin type 9 (PCSK9).

Methods

In this prespecified secondary analysis of 25 982 patients from the randomised FOURIER trial, the relationship between achieved LDL-cholesterol concentration at 4 weeks and subsequent cardiovascular outcomes (primary endpoint was the composite of cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, stroke, coronary revascularisation, or unstable angina; key secondary endpoint was the composite of cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, or stroke) and ten prespecified safety events of interest was examined over a median of 2·2 years of follow-up. We used multivariable modelling to adjust for baseline factors associated with achieved LDL cholesterol. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01764633.

Findings

Between Feb 8, 2013, and June 5, 2015, 27 564 patients were randomly assigned a treatment in the FOURIER study. 1025 (4%) patients did not have an LDL cholesterol measured at 4 weeks and 557 (2%) had already had a primary endpoint event or one of the ten prespecified safety events before the week-4 visit. From the remaining 25 982 patients (94% of those randomly assigned) 13 013 were assigned evolocumab and 12 969 were assigned placebo. 2669 (10%) of 25 982 patients achieved LDL-cholesterol concentrations of less than 0·5 mmol/L, 8003 (31%) patients achieved concentrations between 0·5 and less than 1·3 mmol/L, 3444 (13%) patients achieved concentrations between 1·3 and less than 1·8 mmol/L, 7471 (29%) patients achieved concentrations between 1·8 to less than 2·6 mmol/L, and 4395 (17%) patients achieved concentrations of 2·6 mmol/L or higher. There was a highly significant monotonic relationship between low LDL-cholesterol concentrations and lower risk of the primary and secondary efficacy composite endpoints extending to the bottom first percentile (LDL-cholesterol concentrations of less than 0·2 mmol/L; p=0·0012 for the primary endpoint, p=0·0001 for the secondary endpoint). Conversely, no significant association was observed between achieved LDL cholesterol and safety outcomes, either for all serious adverse events or any of the other nine prespecified safety events.

Interpretation

There was a monotonic relationship between achieved LDL cholesterol and major cardiovascular outcomes down to LDL-cholesterol concentrations of less than 0·2 mmol/L. Conversely, there were no safety concerns with very low LDL-cholesterol concentrations over a median of 2·2 years. These data support further LDL-cholesterol lowering in patients with cardiovascular disease to well below current recommendations.

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Cognitive Function in a Randomized Trial of Evolocumab

BACKGROUND

Findings from clinical trials of proprotein convertase subtilisin–kexin type 9 (PCSK9) inhibitors have led to concern that these drugs or the low levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol that result from their use are associated with cognitive deficits.

METHODS

In a subgroup of patients from a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of evolocumab added to statin therapy, we prospectively assessed cognitive function using the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery. The primary end point was the score on the spatial working memory strategy index of executive function (scores range from 4 to 28, with lower scores indicating a more efficient use of strategy and planning). Secondary end points were the scores for working memory (scores range from 0 to 279, with lower scores indicating fewer errors), episodic memory (scores range from 0 to 70, with lower scores indicating fewer errors), and psychomotor speed (scores range from 100 to 5100 msec, with faster times representing better performance). Assessments of cognitive function were performed at baseline, week 24, yearly, and at the end of the trial. The primary analysis was a noninferiority comparison of the mean change from baseline in the score on the spatial working memory strategy index of executive function between the patients who received evolocumab and those who received placebo; the noninferiority margin was set at 20% of the standard deviation of the score in the placebo group.

RESULTS

A total of 1204 patients were followed for a median of 19 months; the mean (±SD) change from baseline over time in the raw score for the spatial working memory strategy index of executive function (primary end point) was −0.21±2.62 in the evolocumab group and −0.29±2.81 in the placebo group (P<0.001 for noninferiority; P=0.85 for superiority). There were no significant between-group differences in the secondary end points of scores for working memory (change in raw score, −0.52 in the evolocumab group and −0.93 in the placebo group), episodic memory (change in raw score, −1.53 and −1.53, respectively), or psychomotor speed (change in raw score, 5.2 msec and 0.9 msec, respectively). In an exploratory analysis, there were no associations between LDL cholesterol levels and cognitive changes.

CONCLUSIONS

In a randomized trial involving patients who received either evolocumab or placebo in addition to statin therapy, no significant between-group difference in cognitive function was observed over a median of 19 months. (Funded by Amgen; EBBINGHAUS ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02207634.)

Reference: N Engl J Med 2017; 377:633-643August 17, 2017

Evolocumab and Clinical Outcomes in Patients with Cardiovascular Disease

BACKGROUND

Evolocumab is a monoclonal antibody that inhibits proprotein convertase subtilisin–kexin type 9 (PCSK9) and lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels by approximately 60%. Whether it prevents cardiovascular events is uncertain.

METHODS

We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 27,564 patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and LDL cholesterol levels of 70 mg per deciliter (1.8 mmol per liter) or higher who were receiving statin therapy. Patients were randomly assigned to receive evolocumab (either 140 mg every 2 weeks or 420 mg monthly) or matching placebo as subcutaneous injections. The primary efficacy end point was the composite of cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, stroke, hospitalization for unstable angina, or coronary revascularization. The key secondary efficacy end point was the composite of cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, or stroke. The median duration of follow-up was 2.2 years.

RESULTS

At 48 weeks, the least-squares mean percentage reduction in LDL cholesterol levels with evolocumab, as compared with placebo, was 59%, from a median baseline value of 92 mg per deciliter (2.4 mmol per liter) to 30 mg per deciliter (0.78 mmol per liter) (P<0.001). Relative to placebo, evolocumab treatment significantly reduced the risk of the primary end point (1344 patients [9.8%] vs. 1563 patients [11.3%]; hazard ratio, 0.85; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.79 to 0.92; P<0.001) and the key secondary end point (816 [5.9%] vs. 1013 [7.4%]; hazard ratio, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.73 to 0.88; P<0.001). The results were consistent across key subgroups, including the subgroup of patients in the lowest quartile for baseline LDL cholesterol levels (median, 74 mg per deciliter [1.9 mmol per liter]). There was no significant difference between the study groups with regard to adverse events (including new-onset diabetes and neurocognitive events), with the exception of injection-site reactions, which were more common with evolocumab (2.1% vs. 1.6%).

CONCLUSIONS

In our trial, inhibition of PCSK9 with evolocumab on a background of statin therapy lowered LDL cholesterol levels to a median of 30 mg per deciliter (0.78 mmol per liter) and reduced the risk of cardiovascular events. These findings show that patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease benefit from lowering of LDL cholesterol levels below current targets. (Funded by Amgen; FOURIER ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01764633.)

Effect of Evolocumab on Progression of Coronary Disease in Statin-Treated Patients: The GLAGOV Randomized Clinical Trial

Importance  Reducing levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) with intensive statin therapy reduces progression of coronary atherosclerosis in proportion to achieved LDL-C levels. Proprotein convertase subtilisin kexin type 9 (PCSK9) inhibitors produce incremental LDL-C lowering in statin-treated patients; however, the effects of these drugs on coronary atherosclerosis have not been evaluated.

Objective  To determine the effects of PCSK9 inhibition with evolocumab on progression of coronary atherosclerosis in statin-treated patients.

Design, Setting, and Participants  The GLAGOV multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial (enrollment May 3, 2013, to January 12, 2015) conducted at 197 academic and community hospitals in North America, Europe, South America, Asia, Australia, and South Africa and enrolling 968 patients presenting for coronary angiography.

Interventions  Participants with angiographic coronary disease were randomized to receive monthly evolocumab (420 mg) (n = 484) or placebo (n = 484) via subcutaneous injection for 76 weeks, in addition to statins.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The primary efficacy measure was the nominal change in percent atheroma volume (PAV) from baseline to week 78, measured by serial intravascular ultrasonography (IVUS) imaging. Secondary efficacy measures were nominal change in normalized total atheroma volume (TAV) and percentage of patients demonstrating plaque regression. Safety and tolerability were also evaluated.

Results  Among the 968 treated patients (mean age, 59.8 years [SD, 9.2]; 269 [27.8%] women; mean LDL-C level, 92.5 mg/dL [SD, 27.2]), 846 had evaluable imaging at follow-up. Compared with placebo, the evolocumab group achieved lower mean, time-weighted LDL-C levels (93.0 vs 36.6 mg/dL; difference, −56.5 mg/dL [95% CI, −59.7 to −53.4]; P < .001). The primary efficacy parameter, PAV, increased 0.05% with placebo and decreased 0.95% with evolocumab (difference, −1.0% [95% CI, −1.8% to −0.64%]; P < .001). The secondary efficacy parameter, normalized TAV, decreased 0.9 mm3 with placebo and 5.8 mm3 with evolocumab (difference, −4.9 mm3 [95% CI, −7.3 to −2.5]; P < .001). Evolocumab induced plaque regression in a greater percentage of patients than placebo (64.3% vs 47.3%; difference, 17.0% [95% CI, 10.4% to 23.6%]; P < .001 for PAV and 61.5% vs 48.9%; difference, 12.5% [95% CI, 5.9% to 19.2%]; P < .001 for TAV).

Conclusions and Relevance  Among patients with angiographic coronary disease treated with statins, addition of evolocumab, compared with placebo, resulted in a greater decrease in PAV after 76 weeks of treatment. Further studies are needed to assess the effects of PCSK9 inhibition on clinical outcomes.

Trial Registration  clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01813422

Efficacy and Tolerability of Evolocumab vs Ezetimibe in Patients With Muscle-Related Statin Intolerance The GAUSS-3 Randomized Clinical Trial

Importance  Muscle-related statin intolerance is reported by 5% to 20% of patients.

Objective  To identify patients with muscle symptoms confirmed by statin rechallenge and compare lipid-lowering efficacy for 2 nonstatin therapies, ezetimibe and evolocumab.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Two-stage randomized clinical trial including 511 adult patients with uncontrolled low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels and history of intolerance to 2 or more statins enrolled in 2013 and 2014 globally. Phase A used a 24-week crossover procedure with atorvastatin or placebo to identify patients having symptoms only with atorvastatin but not placebo. In phase B, after a 2-week washout, patients were randomized to ezetimibe or evolocumab for 24 weeks.

Interventions  Phase A: atorvastatin (20 mg) vs placebo. Phase B: randomization 2:1 to subcutaneous evolocumab (420 mg monthly) or oral ezetimibe (10 mg daily).

Main Outcome and Measures  Coprimary end points were the mean percent change in LDL-C level from baseline to the mean of weeks 22 and 24 levels and from baseline to week 24 levels.

Results  Of the 491 patients who entered phase A (mean age, 60.7 [SD, 10.2] years; 246 women [50.1%]; 170 with coronary heart disease [34.6%]; entry mean LDL-C level, 212.3 [SD, 67.9] mg/dL), muscle symptoms occurred in 209 of 491 (42.6%) while taking atorvastatin but not while taking placebo. Of these, 199 entered phase B, along with 19 who proceeded directly to phase B for elevated creatine kinase (N = 218, with 73 randomized to ezetimibe and 145 to evolocumab; entry mean LDL-C level, 219.9 [SD, 72] mg/dL). For the mean of weeks 22 and 24, LDL-C level with ezetimibe was 183.0 mg/dL; mean percent LDL-C change, −16.7% (95% CI, −20.5% to −12.9%), absolute change, −31.0 mg/dL and with evolocumab was 103.6 mg/dL; mean percent change, −54.5% (95% CI, −57.2% to −51.8%); absolute change, −106.8 mg/dL (P < .001). LDL-C level at week 24 with ezetimibe was 181.5 mg/dL; mean percent change, −16.7% (95% CI, −20.8% to −12.5%); absolute change, −31.2 mg/dL and with evolocumab was 104.1 mg/dL; mean percent change, −52.8% (95% CI, −55.8% to −49.8%); absolute change, −102.9 mg/dL (P < .001). For the mean of weeks 22 and 24, between-group difference in LDL-C was −37.8%; absolute difference, −75.8 mg/dL. For week 24, between-group difference in LDL-C was −36.1%; absolute difference, –71.7 mg/dL. Muscle symptoms were reported in 28.8% of ezetimibe-treated patients and 20.7% of evolocumab-treated patients (log-rank P = .17). Active study drug was stopped for muscle symptoms in 5 of 73 ezetimibe-treated patients (6.8%) and 1 of 145 evolocumab-treated patients (0.7%).

Conclusions and Relevance  Among patients with statin intolerance related to muscle-related adverse effects, the use of evolocumab compared with ezetimibe resulted in a significantly greater reduction in LDL-C levels after 24 weeks. Further studies are needed to assess long-term efficacy and safety.

Trial Registration  clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01984424

JAMA. 2016;315(15):1580-1590. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.3608.