Conference Coverage

Nintedanib cut lung function decline in interstitial lung disease with systemic sclerosis


AT ATS 2019

– Nintedanib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, decreased by 44% the annual rate of lung function decline among patients with interstitial lung disease associated with systemic sclerosis, a year-long study has found.

Dr. Oliver Distler of the University of Zurich Michele G. Sullivan/MDedge News

Dr. Oliver Distler

In a placebo-controlled 52-week trial, forced vital capacity (FVC) in patients who took nintedanib (Ofev) declined by a mean of 52 mL – significantly less than the mean 93 mL decline seen among those who were given placebo, Oliver Distler, MD, said at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society.

“These are people in their mid-40s and -50s,” said Dr. Distler of the University of Zürich. “They have a long time to go. If there is an annual preservation of lung function by 40%, if you have that every year, it becomes very surely clinically significant. A decline in FVC is also a good surrogate marker of mortality in interstitial lung disease associated with systemic sclerosis. Assuming the effects are ongoing above the 1 year we looked at, then indeed these results are clinically important.”

The study was simultaneously published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Nintedanib is already approved for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. But some data suggest that it also exerts antifibrotic and anti-inflammatory effects in animal models of systemic sclerosis and inflammatory lung disease (ILD). SENSCIS (the Safety and Efficacy of Nintedanib in Systemic Sclerosis trial) investigated the molecule’s use in patients with ILD associated with systemic sclerosis.

Conducted in 32 countries, SENSCIS comprised 576 patients with the disorder, whose sclerosis affected at least 10% of their lungs. They were assigned to 52 weeks of either placebo or 150 mg nintedanib twice weekly. However, patients stayed on their blinded treatment until the last patient enrolled had finished the year of treatment; some patients took the drug for 100 weeks, Dr. Distler said. The primary endpoint was annual rate of decline in the forced vital capacity (FEV). Secondary endpoints included changes of the modified Rodnan skin score and in the total score on the St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire.

Patients were a mean of 54 years old, with a mean disease duration of about 3 years. About half had diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis; the sclerosis was limited in the remainder. The mean extent of lung fibrosis was about 36%. Half were taking mycophenolate at baseline, which was allowed as background treatment, along with up to 10 mg/day of prednisone. Any patient who experienced clinically significant lung function deterioration could receive additional therapy at the investigator’s discretion.

The mean baseline FEV for these patients was 72.5% of predicted value. The mean diffusing capacity of the lungs for carbon monoxide was 53% of expected capacity.

Most patients completed the study (80% of the active group and 89% of the placebo group). The mean drug exposure duration was 10 months in the active group and 11 in the placebo group.

Improvement began early in treatment, with the efficacy curves separating by week 12 and continuing to diverge. After 52 weeks of therapy, the annual rate of change was 41 mL less in the active group than in the placebo group (–54.4 mL vs. –93.3 mL). The mean adjusted absolute change from baseline was –54.6 mL in the active group and –101 mL in the placebo at week 52. Significantly fewer patients taking nintedanib also lost more than 10% of FVC by week 52 (16.7% vs. 18%).

The St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire score improved about one point in the active group and declined about one point in the placebo group.

Nintedanib was equally effective across a number of subgroups, including those divided by sex, age, and race. Antitopoisomerase antibodies and so-called antitopoisomerase I antibody status did not affect nintedanib’s action. Nintedanib also significantly improved scores on the Health Assessment Questionnaire without Disability Index and dyspnea.

More patients in the active group than in on placebo discontinued treatment because of a serious adverse event (16% vs. 8.7%). The most common of these were diarrhea (75.7% vs. 31%), nausea (31.6% vs. 13.5%), and vomiting (24.7% vs.10.4%). Skin ulcers occurred in about 18% of each group. Patients in the active group were significantly more likely to develop elevated alanine and aspartate aminotransferase of up to three times normal levels (4.9% vs. 0.7%).

Treatment did not significantly affect mortality rates, however. Over the treatment period, 10 patients in the nintedanib group and 9 in the placebo group died (3.5% vs. 3.1%).

The study was sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim. Dr. Distler was the primary investigator on the trial.

SOURCE: Distler O et al. ATS 2019, Abstract A7360.

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