Nearly one-third of patients with primary biliary cholangitis treated with bezafibrate showed clinical improvement after 24 months, according to data from a randomized trial of 100 adults.
Ursodeoxycholic acid remains the standard first-line therapy for primary biliary cholangitis (PBC), but many patients have an incomplete response to the treatment, and consequently their long-term survival is limited, wrote Christophe Corpechot, MD, of Sorbonne University, Paris, and his colleagues. PBC is also known as primary biliary cirrhosis.
In thetrial (Bezafibrate in Combination with Ursodeoxycholic Acid in Primary Biliary Cirrhosis), published in the , the researchers randomized 100 primary PBC patients with an inadequate response to ursodeoxycholic acid to receive 400 mg per day of bezafibrate or a placebo for 24 months. Inadequate response was defined as “a serum level of alkaline phosphatase or aspartate aminotransferase more than 1.5 times the upper limit of the normal range or an abnormal total bilirubin level, assessed after at least 6 months of treatment with ursodeoxycholic acid,” the researchers said.
Baseline demographics were not significantly different between the groups. The average age of the patients was 53 years, and 95% were white women.
After 24 months, 31% of the patients in the treatment group met the primary outcome, which was the achievement of normal levels of alkaline phosphatase, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, total bilirubin, and albumin, plus a normal prothrombin index. By contrast, none of the patients in the placebo group achieved the primary outcome.
In particular, bezafibrate patients showed a 60% reduction in alkaline phosphatase levels from baseline to 3 months, and a 14% decrease in total bilirubin from baseline during the course of the study.
Clinical outcomes were similar between the groups; 20% of the bezafibrate group and 18% of the placebo group developed portal hypertension, and two patients in each group developed liver complications. No deaths occurred in either group during the study. Approximately half of the patients in each group reported adverse events. Serious adverse events occurred in 14 bezafibrate patients and 12 placebo patients.