Cardiovascular Efficacy and Safety of Bococizumab in High-Risk Patients


Bococizumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody that inhibits proprotein convertase subtilisin–kexin type 9 (PCSK9) and reduces levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. We sought to evaluate the efficacy of bococizumab in patients at high cardiovascular risk.


In two parallel, multinational trials with different entry criteria for LDL cholesterol levels, we randomly assigned the 27,438 patients in the combined trials to receive bococizumab (at a dose of 150 mg) subcutaneously every 2 weeks or placebo. The primary end point was nonfatal myocardial infarction, nonfatal stroke, hospitalization for unstable angina requiring urgent revascularization, or cardiovascular death; 93% of the patients were receiving statin therapy at baseline. The trials were stopped early after the sponsor elected to discontinue the development of bococizumab owing in part to the development of high rates of antidrug antibodies, as seen in data from other studies in the program. The median follow-up was 10 months.


At 14 weeks, patients in the combined trials had a mean change from baseline in LDL cholesterol levels of −56.0% in the bococizumab group and +2.9% in the placebo group, for a between-group difference of –59.0 percentage points (P<0.001) and a median reduction from baseline of 64.2% (P<0.001). In the lower-risk, shorter-duration trial (in which the patients had a baseline LDL cholesterol level of ≥70 mg per deciliter [1.8 mmol per liter] and the median follow-up was 7 months), major cardiovascular events occurred in 173 patients each in the bococizumab group and the placebo group (hazard ratio, 0.99; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.80 to 1.22; P=0.94). In the higher-risk, longer-duration trial (in which the patients had a baseline LDL cholesterol level of ≥100 mg per deciliter [2.6 mmol per liter] and the median follow-up was 12 months), major cardiovascular events occurred in 179 and 224 patients, respectively (hazard ratio, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.65 to 0.97; P=0.02). The hazard ratio for the primary end point in the combined trials was 0.88 (95% CI, 0.76 to 1.02; P=0.08). Injection-site reactions were more common in the bococizumab group than in the placebo group (10.4% vs. 1.3%, P<0.001).


In two randomized trials comparing the PCSK9 inhibitor bococizumab with placebo, bococizumab had no benefit with respect to major adverse cardiovascular events in the trial involving lower-risk patients but did have a significant benefit in the trial involving higher-risk patients. (Funded by Pfizer; SPIRE-1 and SPIRE-2 numbers, NCT01975376 and NCT01975389.)

N Engl J Med 2017; 376:1527-1539

Lipid-Reduction Variability and Antidrug-Antibody Formation with Bococizumab


Bococizumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody targeting proprotein convertase subtilisin–kexin type 9 (PCSK9), reduces levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. However, the variability and durability of this effect are uncertain.


We conducted six parallel, multinational lipid-lowering trials enrolling 4300 patients with hyperlipidemia who were randomly assigned to receive 150 mg of bococizumab or placebo subcutaneously every 2 weeks and who were followed for up to 12 months; 96% were receiving statin therapy at the time of enrollment. The patients were assessed for lipid changes over time, stratified according to the presence or absence of antidrug antibodies detected during the treatment period.


At 12 weeks, patients who received bococizumab had a reduction of 54.2% in the LDL cholesterol level from baseline, as compared with an increase of 1.0% among those who received placebo (absolute between-group difference, −55.2 percentage points). Significant between-group differences were also observed in total cholesterol, non–high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, apolipoprotein B, and lipoprotein(a) (P<0.001 for all comparisons). However, high-titer antidrug antibodies developed in a substantial proportion of the patients who received bococizumab, which markedly diminished the magnitude and durability of the reduction in LDL cholesterol levels. In addition, among patients with no antidrug antibodies, there was wide variability in the reduction in LDL cholesterol levels at both 12 weeks and 52 weeks. Major cardiovascular events occurred in 57 patients (2.5%) who received bococizumab and in 55 (2.7%) who received placebo (hazard ratio, 0.96; 95% confidence interval, 0.66 to 1.39; P=0.83). The most common adverse event among patients who received bococizumab was injection-site reaction (12.7 per 100 person-years).


In six multinational trials evaluating bococizumab, antidrug antibodies developed in a large proportion of the patients and significantly attenuated the lowering of LDL cholesterol levels. Wide variation in the relative reduction in cholesterol levels was also observed among patients in whom antidrug antibodies did not develop. (Funded by Pfizer; SPIRE numbers, NCT01968954, NCT01968967, NCT01968980, NCT02100514, NCT02135029, and NCT02458287.)

Inclisiran in Patients at High Cardiovascular Risk with Elevated LDL Cholesterol


In a previous study, a single injection of inclisiran, a chemically synthesized small interfering RNA designed to target PCSK9 messenger RNA, was found to produce sustained reductions in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels over the course of 84 days in healthy volunteers.


We conducted a phase 2, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multiple-ascending-dose trial of inclisiran administered as a subcutaneous injection in patients at high risk for cardiovascular disease who had elevated LDL cholesterol levels. Patients were randomly assigned to receive a single dose of placebo or 200, 300, or 500 mg of inclisiran or two doses (at days 1 and 90) of placebo or 100, 200, or 300 mg of inclisiran. The primary end point was the change from baseline in LDL cholesterol level at 180 days. Safety data were available through day 210, and data on LDL cholesterol and proprotein convertase subtilisin–kexin type 9 (PCSK9) levels were available through day 240.


A total of 501 patients underwent randomization. Patients who received inclisiran had dose-dependent reductions in PCSK9 and LDL cholesterol levels. At day 180, the least-squares mean reductions in LDL cholesterol levels were 27.9 to 41.9% after a single dose of inclisiran and 35.5 to 52.6% after two doses (P<0.001 for all comparisons vs. placebo). The two-dose 300-mg inclisiran regimen produced the greatest reduction in LDL cholesterol levels: 48% of the patients who received the regimen had an LDL cholesterol level below 50 mg per deciliter (1.3 mmol per liter) at day 180. At day 240, PCSK9 and LDL cholesterol levels remained significantly lower than at baseline in association with all inclisiran regimens. Serious adverse events occurred in 11% of the patients who received inclisiran and in 8% of the patients who received placebo. Injection-site reactions occurred in 5% of the patients who received injections of inclisiran.


In our trial, inclisiran was found to lower PCSK9 and LDL cholesterol levels among patients at high cardiovascular risk who had elevated LDL cholesterol levels. (Funded by the Medicines Company; ORION-1 number, NCT02597127.)

Effect of Oral Dexamethasone Without Immediate Antibiotics vs Placebo on Acute Sore Throat in Adults

Importance  Acute sore throat poses a significant burden on primary care and is a source of inappropriate antibiotic prescribing. Corticosteroids could be an alternative symptomatic treatment.

Objective  To assess the clinical effectiveness of oral corticosteroids for acute sore throat in the absence of antibiotics.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial (April 2013-February 2015; 28-day follow-up completed April 2015) conducted in 42 family practices in South and West England, enrolled 576 adults recruited on the day of presentation to primary care with acute sore throat not requiring immediate antibiotic therapy.

Interventions  Single oral dose of 10 mg of dexamethasone (n = 293) or identical placebo (n = 283).

Main Outcomes and Measures  Primary: proportion of participants experiencing complete resolution of symptoms at 24 hours. Secondary: complete resolution at 48 hours, duration of moderately bad symptoms (based on a Likert scale, 0, normal; 6, as bad as it could be), visual analog symptom scales (0-100 mm; 0, no symptom to 100, worst imaginable), health care attendance, days missed from work or education, consumption of delayed antibiotics or other medications, adverse events.

Results  Among 565 eligible participants who were randomized (median age, 34 years [interquartile range, 26.0-45.5 year]; 75.2% women; 100% completed the intervention), 288 received dexamethasone; 277, placebo. At 24 hours, 65 participants (22.6%) in the dexamethasone group and 49 (17.7%) in the placebo group achieved complete resolution of symptoms, for a risk difference of 4.7% (95% CI, −1.8% to 11.2%) and a relative risk of 1.28 (95% CI; 0.92 to 1.78; P = .14). At 24 hours, participants receiving dexamethasone were not more likely than those receiving placebo to have complete symptom resolution. At 48 hours, 102 participants (35.4%) in the dexamethasone group vs 75 (27.1%) in the placebo group achieved complete resolution of symptoms, for a risk difference of 8.7% (95% CI, 1.2% to 16.2%) and a relative risk of 1.31 (95% CI, 1.02 to 1.68; P = .03). This difference also was observed in participants not offered delayed antibiotic prescription, for a risk difference of 10.3% (95% CI, 0.6% to 20.1%) and a relative risk of 1.37 (95% CI, 1.01 to 1.87; P = .046). There were no significant differences in any other secondary outcomes.

Conclusions and Relevance  Among adults presenting to primary care with acute sore throat, a single dose of oral dexamethasone compared with placebo did not increase the proportion of patients with resolution of symptoms at 24 hours. However, there was a significant difference at 48 hours.

Trial Registration Identifier: ISRCTN17435450

JAMA. 2017;317(15):1535-1543.

3 years of liraglutide versus placebo for type 2 diabetes risk reduction and weight management in individuals with prediabetes: a randomised, double-blind trial


Liraglutide 3·0 mg was shown to reduce bodyweight and improve glucose metabolism after the 56-week period of this trial, one of four trials in the SCALE programme. In the 3-year assessment of the SCALE Obesity and Prediabetes trial we aimed to evaluate the proportion of individuals with prediabetes who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.


In this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, adults with prediabetes and a body-mass index of at least 30 kg/m2, or at least 27 kg/m2 with comorbidities, were randomised 2:1, using a telephone or web-based system, to once-daily subcutaneous liraglutide 3·0 mg or matched placebo, as an adjunct to a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity. Time to diabetes onset by 160 weeks was the primary outcome, evaluated in all randomised treated individuals with at least one post-baseline assessment. The trial was conducted at 191 clinical research sites in 27 countries and is registered with, number NCT01272219.


The study ran between June 1, 2011, and March 2, 2015. We randomly assigned 2254 patients to receive liraglutide (n=1505) or placebo (n=749). 1128 (50%) participants completed the study up to week 160, after withdrawal of 714 (47%) participants in the liraglutide group and 412 (55%) participants in the placebo group. By week 160, 26 (2%) of 1472 individuals in the liraglutide group versus 46 (6%) of 738 in the placebo group were diagnosed with diabetes while on treatment. The mean time from randomisation to diagnosis was 99 (SD 47) weeks for the 26 individuals in the liraglutide group versus 87 (47) weeks for the 46 individuals in the placebo group. Taking the different diagnosis frequencies between the treatment groups into account, the time to onset of diabetes over 160 weeks among all randomised individuals was 2·7 times longer with liraglutide than with placebo (95% CI 1·9 to 3·9, p<0·0001), corresponding with a hazard ratio of 0·21 (95% CI 0·13–0·34). Liraglutide induced greater weight loss than placebo at week 160 (–6·1 [SD 7·3] vs −1·9% [6·3]; estimated treatment difference −4·3%, 95% CI −4·9 to −3·7, p<0·0001). Serious adverse events were reported by 227 (15%) of 1501 randomised treated individuals in the liraglutide group versus 96 (13%) of 747 individuals in the placebo group.


In this trial, we provide results for 3 years of treatment, with the limitation that withdrawn individuals were not followed up after discontinuation. Liraglutide 3·0 mg might provide health benefits in terms of reduced risk of diabetes in individuals with obesity and prediabetes.

Relative effectiveness of insulin pump treatment over multiple daily injections and structured education during flexible intensive insulin treatment for type 1 diabetes: cluster randomised trial (REPOSE)

Objective To compare the effectiveness of insulin pumps with multiple daily injections for adults with type 1 diabetes, with both groups receiving equivalent training in flexible insulin treatment.

Design Pragmatic, multicentre, open label, parallel group, cluster randomised controlled trial (Relative Effectiveness of Pumps Over MDI and Structured Education (REPOSE) trial).

Setting Eight secondary care centres in England and Scotland.

Participants Adults with type 1 diabetes who were willing to undertake intensive insulin treatment, with no preference for pumps or multiple daily injections. Participants were allocated a place on established group training courses that taught flexible intensive insulin treatment (“dose adjustment for normal eating,” DAFNE). The course groups (the clusters) were then randomly allocated in pairs to either pump or multiple daily injections.

Interventions Participants attended training in flexible insulin treatment (using insulin analogues) structured around the use of pump or injections, followed for two years.

Main outcome measures The primary outcomes were a change in glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) values (%) at two years in participants with baseline HbA1c value of ≥7.5% (58 mmol/mol), and the proportion of participants achieving an HbA1c value of <7.5%. Secondary outcomes included body weight, insulin dose, and episodes of moderate and severe hypoglycaemia. Ancillary outcomes included quality of life and treatment satisfaction.

Results 317 participants (46 courses) were randomised (156 pump and 161 injections). 267 attended courses and 260 were included in the intention to treat analysis, of which 235 (119 pump and 116 injection) had baseline HbA1c values of ≥7.5%. Glycaemic control and rates of severe hypoglycaemia improved in both groups. The mean change in HbA1c at two years was −0.85% with pump treatment and −0.42% with multiple daily injections. Adjusting for course, centre, age, sex, and accounting for missing values, the difference was −0.24% (−2.7 mmol/mol) in favour of pump users (95% confidence interval −0.53 to 0.05, P=0.10). Most psychosocial measures showed no difference, but pump users showed greater improvement in treatment satisfaction and some quality of life domains (dietary freedom and daily hassle) at 12 and 24 months.

Conclusions Both groups showed clinically relevant and long lasting decreases in HbA1c, rates of severe hypoglycaemia, and improved psychological measures, although few participants achieved glucose levels currently recommended by national and international guidelines. Adding pump treatment to structured training in flexible intensive insulin treatment did not substantially enhance educational benefits on glycaemic control, hypoglycaemia, or psychosocial outcomes in adults with type 1 diabetes. These results do not support a policy of providing insulin pumps to adults with poor glycaemic control until the effects of training on participants’ level of engagement in intensive self management have been determined.

Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN61215213.

BMJ 2017;356:j1285

Quarter-dose quadruple combination therapy for initial treatment of hypertension: placebo-controlled, crossover, randomised trial and systematic review


Globally, most patients with hypertension are treated with monotherapy, and control rates are poor because monotherapy only reduces blood pressure by around 9/5 mm Hg on average. There is a pressing need for blood pressure-control strategies with improved efficacy and tolerability. We aimed to assess whether ultra-low-dose combination therapy could meet these needs.


We did a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover trial of a quadpill—a single capsule containing four blood pressure-lowering drugs each at quarter-dose (irbesartan 37·5 mg, amlodipine 1·25 mg, hydrochlorothiazide 6·25 mg, and atenolol 12·5 mg). Participants with untreated hypertension were enrolled from four centres in the community of western Sydney, NSW, Australia, mainly by general practitioners. Participants were randomly allocated by computer to either the quadpill or matching placebo for 4 weeks; this treatment was followed by a 2-week washout, then the other study treatment was administered for 4 weeks. Study staff and participants were unaware of treatment allocations, and masking was achieved by use of identical opaque capsules. The primary outcome was placebo-corrected 24-h systolic ambulatory blood pressure reduction after 4 weeks and analysis was by intention to treat. We also did a systematic review of trials evaluating the efficacy and safety of quarter-standard-dose blood pressure-lowering therapy against placebo. This trial is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, number ACTRN12614001057673. The trial ended after 1 year and this report presents the final analysis.


Between November, 2014, and December, 2015, 55 patients were screened for our randomised trial, of whom 21 underwent randomisation. Mean age of participants was 58 years (SD 11) and mean baseline office and 24-h systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels were 154 (14)/90 (11) mm Hg and 140 (9)/87 (8) mm Hg, respectively. One individual declined participation after randomisation and two patients dropped out for administrative reasons. The placebo-corrected reduction in systolic 24-h blood pressure with the quadpill was 19 mm Hg (95% CI 14–23), and office blood pressure was reduced by 22/13 mm Hg (p<0·0001). During quadpill treatment, 18 (100%) of 18 participants achieved office blood pressure less than 140/90 mm Hg, compared with six (33%) of 18 during placebo treatment (p=0·0013). There were no serious adverse events and all patients reported that the quadpill was easy to swallow. Our systematic review identified 36 trials (n=4721 participants) of one drug at quarter-dose and six trials (n=312) of two drugs at quarter-dose, against placebo. The pooled placebo-corrected blood pressure-lowering effects were 5/2 mm Hg and 7/5 mm Hg, respectively (both p<0·0001), and there were no side-effects from either regimen.


The findings of our small trial in the context of previous randomised evidence suggest that the benefits of quarter-dose therapy could be additive across classes and might confer a clinically important reduction in blood pressure. Further examination of the quadpill concept is needed to investigate effectiveness against usual treatment options and longer term tolerability.


National Heart Foundation, Australia; University of Sydney; and National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

The Lancet, Volume 389, No. 10073, p1035–1042, 11 March 2017