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Paton, Nicholas I; Stöhr, Wolfgang; Oddershede, Lars; Arenas-Pinto, Alejandro; Walker, Simon; Sculpher, Mark; Dunn, David T (2016)
Publisher: NIHR Journals Library
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: Research Article
Background Standard-of-care antiretroviral therapy (ART) for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection uses a combination of drugs, until now considered essential to minimise treatment failure and development of drug resistance. Protease inhibitors (PIs) are potent with a high genetic barrier to resistance and have the potential for use as monotherapy after viral load (VL) suppression achieved on combination therapy. However, longer-term resistance and toxicity risks are uncertain. Objective To compare the effectiveness, toxicity profile and cost-effectiveness of PI monotherapy with those of standard-of-care triple therapy in a pragmatic long-term clinical trial. Design Open-label, parallel-group, randomised controlled trial. Setting Forty-three HIV clinical centres in the UK NHS. Participants HIV-positive adults taking standard combination ART with a suppressed VL for ≥ 6 months. Interventions Patients were randomised to maintain ongoing triple therapy (OT) or switch to a strategy of physician-selected ritonavir-boosted PI monotherapy (PI-mono), with prompt return to combination therapy in the event of VL rebound. Main outcome measures The primary outcome was reduction of future drug options, defined as new intermediate-/high-level resistance to one or more drugs to which the patient’s virus was considered to be sensitive at trial entry (non-inferiority comparison, 10% margin). Secondary outcomes included confirmed virological rebound, serious drug- or disease-related complications, total grade 3 or 4 adverse events (AEs), neurocognitive function change, cluster of differentiation 4 (CD4) cell count change, change in health-related quality of life, cardiovascular risk change, health-care costs and health economic analysis. Results In total, 587 participants were randomised (77% male, 68% white) to OT (n = 291) or PI-mono (n = 296) and followed for a median of 44 months, of whom 2.7% withdrew/were lost to follow-up. One or more episodes of confirmed VL rebound were observed in eight patients (Kaplan–Meier estimate 3.2%) in the OT group and 95 patients (35.0%) in the PI-mono group [absolute risk difference 31.8%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 24.6% to 39.0%; p < 0.001]. PI-mono patients who changed to ART after VL rebound all resuppressed (median 3.5 weeks). The proportions with loss of a future drug option at 3 years were 0.7% in the OT group and 2.1% in the PI-mono group (difference 1.4%, (95% CI –0.4% to 3.4%); non-inferiority demonstrated). There were no significant differences in serious disease complications between groups or in the frequency of grade 3 or 4 clinical AEs (16.8% OT group vs. 22% PI-mono group; absolute risk difference 5.1%, 95% CI –1.3% to 11.5%; p = 0.12). Overall, the PI-mono strategy was shown to be cost-effective compared with OT under most scenarios explored. PI-mono was cost saving because of the large savings in ART drug costs while being no less effective in terms of quality-adjusted life-years in the within-trial analysis and only marginally less effective when extrapolated to lifetime outcomes. Conclusions PI monotherapy, with prompt reintroduction of combination therapy for VL rebound, was non-inferior to combination therapy in preserving future treatment options and is an acceptable and cost-effective alternative for long-term management of HIV infection. Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN04857074. Funding This project was funded by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme and will be published in full in Health Technology Assessment; Vol. 20, No. 21. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.

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