In patients with persistent or recurring Cushing’s disease after surgery, monthly pasireotide was safe and effective, leading to normal urinary free cortisol levels in about 40% of patients after 12 months, according to findings from a phase 3 clinical trial.
“Surgical resection of the causative pituitary adenoma is the first-line treatment of choice for most patients with Cushing’s disease, which leads to remission in greater than 75% of patients if done by an expert pituitary surgeon,” Andre Lacroix, MD, professor in the department of medicine at University of Montreal teaching hospital, and colleagues wrote in the study background. “However, surgery is not always successful, and disease recurrence can occur several years after initial remission, while some patients refuse or are not candidates for surgery. As a result, many patients require additional treatment options.”
Lacroix and colleagues analyzed data from 150 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of persistent, recurrent or new Cushing’s disease with mean urinary free cortisol level concentration 1.5 to five times the upper limit of normal, normal or greater than normal plasma and confirmed pituitary source of Cushing’s disease. Patients were recruited between December 2011 and December 2014; those who received mitotane therapy within 6 months, pituitary irradiation within 10 years or previous pasireotide treatment were excluded. Researchers randomly assigned patients to 10 mg (n = 74) or 30 mg (n = 76) monthly intramuscular pasireotide (Signifor LAR, Novartis) for 12 months, with investigators and patients masked to the group allocation and dose. Pasireotide was up-titrated from 10 mg to 30 mg or from 30 mg to 40 mg at month 4, or at month 7, 9 or 12 if urinary free cortisol concentrations remained greater than 1.5 times the upper limit of normal. At month 12, patients considered to be receiving clinical benefit from the therapy (mean urinary free cortisol concentration at or less than the upper limit of normal) could continue to receive it during an open-ended extension phase. The primary outcome was to assess the proportion of patients achieving mean urinary free cortisol concentration less than or equal to the upper limit of normal by month 7, regardless of dose.
Within the cohort, 41.9% of patients in the 10-mg group and 40.8% of patients in the 40-mg group met the primary endpoint at month 7, whereas 5% of patients in the 10-mg group and 13% of patients in the 40-mg group achieved partial control. Researchers did not observe between-sex differences or differences in response among those who did or did not undergo previous surgery.
The number of patients who achieved the primary endpoint at month 7 without an up-titration in dose was smaller, but not significantly different between the 10-mg and 40-mg dose groups (28.4% and 31.6%, respectively), according to researchers. Among those who received an up-titration in dose in the 10-mg and 40-mg groups (42% and 37%, respectively), 32% and 25%, respectively, were considered responders at month 7.
Researchers also observed improvements in several metabolic parameters during the 12-month course of treatment with both doses, including improvements in systolic and diastolic blood pressure; reductions in waist circumference, BMI and body weight; and improvement in scores for the Cushing’s Quality of Life questionnaire. The most common adverse events were hyperglycemia, diarrhea, cholelithiasis, diabetes and nausea.
The researchers noted that, in both dose groups, the reductions in mean urinary free cortisol concentration were observed within 1 month, with concentrations remaining below baseline levels for the 12-month study period.
“This large phase 3 trial showed that long-acting pasireotide administered for 12 months can reduce [median urinary free cortisol] concentrations, is associated with improvements in clinical signs and [health-related quality of life] and has a similar safety profile to that of twice-daily pasireotide,” the researchers wrote, adding that the long-acting formulation provides a convenient monthly administration schedule. – by Regina Schaffer
Disclosures: Novartis funded this study. Lacroix reports he has received grants and personal fees as a clinical investigator, study steering committee member and advisory board member for Novartis, Stonebridge and UpToDate. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.