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Aliskiren No Help for Type 2 Patients

The ALTITUDE trial, which was prematurely halted, showed that when added to monotherapy with either an ACE inhibitor or an ARB, aliskiren (Tekturna) did not improve outcomes in patients with type 2 diabetes who had high cardiovascular and renal risk….

According to Hans-Henrik Parving, MD, DMSc, of the University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University in Denmark, a composite of various cardiovascular and renal outcomes occurred in 17.9% of patients receiving the direct renin inhibitor and 16.8% of those receiving placebo (HR 1.08, 95% CI 0.98 to 1.20) with an average follow-up of 32 months.

At a presentation at the European Society of Cardiology meeting, Parving reported that there were no significant differences on any of the individual components of the endpoint — cardiovascular death, resuscitated sudden death, MI, stroke, unplanned hospitalization for heart failure, doubling of baseline serum creatinine, and onset of end-stage renal disease — or all-cause death.

The rate of stroke — mostly ischemic stroke — was numerically higher with aliskiren, although the result fell short of statistical significance (3.4% versus 2.8%; HR 1.25, 95% CI 0.98 to 1.60, P=0.07).

Thus, Parving said, using aliskiren with ACE inhibitors or ARBs in these high-risk patients "is not recommended and may even be harmful."

The data monitoring committee for the ALTITUDE trial decided to stop the study early in December 2011 both for futility and for adverse events. Then, earlier this year, the FDA issued a warning about using aliskiren with ACE inhibitors or ARBs and changed the drug label to reflect a contraindication for such combinations in patients with diabetes or renal impairment.

The trial included 8,561 patients with type 2 diabetes who had a high risk of cardiovascular or renal disease who were randomized to aliskiren — at 150 mg daily for 1 month followed by 300 mg daily thereafter — or placebo in addition to monotherapy with either an ACE inhibitor or an ARB (but not both).

Adding aliskiren did not improve outcomes, and in fact, may have caused harm, Parving said, as indicated by the apparent increase in stroke risk.

He said that could be explained by the impaired autoregulation of patients with diabetes or by chance, as there are no indications of a stroke risk in other studies of the drug.

Johannes Mann, of Friedrich Alexander University in Erlangen, Germany, and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who served as the discussant following Parving’s presentation, agreed that it could be a chance finding, but said that it could also be a direct effect of aliskiren itself.

He concluded that the stroke risk was not explained, however, by dual renin system inhibition, because such a signal was not seen in the ONTARGET trial, which compared the combination of ramipril (an ACE inhibitor) and telmisartan (an ARB) with each drug as monotherapy.

As noted when the trial was halted last year, adverse events were more frequent in the aliskiren group.

The percentage of patients who had a potassium level of 5.5 to less than 6.0 mmol/L was greater with active treatment (21% versus 16%), as was the percentage of those with a potassium level of 6.0 mmol/L or greater (8.8% versus 5.6%).

Aliskiren carried higher risks of hyperkalemia (38.7% versus 28.6%), hypotension (12.1% versus 8%), diarrhea (9.6% versus 7.2%), and falls (2.8% versus 2.6%). There was one death caused by hyperkalemia.

Practice Pearls:

  • When added to monotherapy with either an ACE inhibitor or an angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB), aliskiren (Tekturna) did not improve outcomes in patients with type 2 diabetes who had high cardiovascular and renal risk.
  • Point out that earlier this year, the FDA issued a warning about using aliskiren with ACE inhibitors or ARBs and changed the drug label to reflect a contraindication for such combinations in patients with diabetes or renal impairment.
  • Note that this study was published as an abstract and presented at a conference. These data and conclusions should be considered to be preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Presented at the European Society of Cardiology; Parving H-H, et al "The Aliskiren Trial in Type 2 Diabetes Using Cardio-Renal Endpoints (ALTITUDE)" ESC 2012; Abstract 399.