Conference Coverage

Evolocumab safe, well-tolerated in HIV+ patients



Evolocumab proved effective, well tolerated, and safe for the treatment of refractory dyslipidemia in persons living with HIV in the phase 3, randomized, double-blind BEIJERINCK study.

At 24 weeks, nearly three-quarters of patients randomized to evolocumab (Repatha) achieved at least a 50% reduction in LDL cholesterol while on maximally tolerated background lipid lowering with a statin and/or other drugs. This was accompanied by significant reductions in other atherogenic lipids, Franck Boccara, MD, PhD, reported at the joint scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology and the World Heart Federation. The meeting was conducted online after its cancellation because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Evolocumab thus shows the potential to help fill a major unmet need for more effective treatment of dyslipidemia in HIV-positive patients, who number an estimated 38 million worldwide, including 1.1 million in the United States. Access to highly active antiretroviral therapies has transformed HIV infection into a chronic manageable disease, but this major advance has been accompanied by a rate of premature atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease that’s nearly twice that of the general population, observed Dr. Boccara, a cardiologist at Sorbonne University, Paris.

The BEIJERINCK study included 464 HIV-infected patients in the United States and 14 other countries on five continents. Participants had a mean baseline LDL cholesterol of 133 mg/dL and triglycerides of about 190 mg/dL while on maximally tolerated lipid-lowering therapy. They had been diagnosed with HIV an average of 18 years earlier. One-third of them had known atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. More than one-quarter of participants were cigarette smokers. Patients were randomized 2:1 to 24 weeks of double-blind subcutaneous evolocumab at 420 mg once monthly or placebo, then an additional 24 weeks of open-label evolocumab for all.

The primary endpoint was change in LDL from baseline to week 24: a 56.2% reduction in the evolocumab group and a 0.7% increase with placebo. About 73% of patients on evolocumab achieved at least a 50% reduction in LDL cholesterol, as did less than 1% of controls. Likewise, 73% of the evolocumab group got their LDL cholesterol below 70 mg/dL, compared with 7.9% with placebo.

The evolocumab group also experienced favorable placebo-subtracted differences from baseline of 23% in triglycerides, 27% in lipoprotein(a), and 22% in very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

As was the case in the earlier, much larger landmark clinical trials, evolocumab was well tolerated in BEIJERINCK, with a side effect profile similar to placebo. Notably, there was no increase in liver abnormalities in evolocumab-treated patients on highly active antiretroviral therapy, and no one developed evolocumab neutralizing antibodies.

Dr. Boccara reported receiving a research grant from Amgen, the study sponsor, as well as lecture fees from several other pharmaceutical companies.

Simultaneous with the presentation at ACC 2020, the primary results of the BEIJERINCK study were published online (J Am Coll Cardiol. 2020 Mar 19. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2020.03.025).

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