Background: Lifelong HIV antiretroviral therapy (ART) has prompted an interest in two-drug regimens to minimise cumulative drug exposure and toxicities. The safety, tolerability, and efficacy of dolutegravir and rilpivirine suggest potential compatibility and effectiveness as a two-drug regimen. We aimed to investigate this two-drug regimen in a phase 3 study.
Methods: We identically designed SWORD-1 and SWORD-2, which were open-label, parallel-group, multicentre, phase 3, randomised, non-inferiority studies in 12 countries evaluating efficacy and safety of once-daily dolutegravir 50 mg plus rilpivirine 25 mg versus current ART regimen (CAR). We included participants aged 18 years or older who were on first or second ART with stable plasma HIV-1 RNA (viral load <50 copies per mL) for 6 months or longer at screening. We randomly assigned participants (1:1) with stratification by third-agent class, age, and planned participation in a bone mineral density substudy. The primary endpoint was proportion of participants with viral load lower than 50 copies per mL at week 48 among those individuals who received one or more doses of study medication. Investigators monitored adverse events to assess safety. These trials are registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, numbers NCT02429791 (SWORD-1) and NCT02422797 (SWORD-2).
Findings: We screened for participants from April 14, 2015, to Oct 15, 2015, for SWORD-1 and from April 21, 2015, to Sept 25, 2015, for SWORD-2. We randomly assigned 516 participants to dolutegravir-rilpivirine and 512 to continue with CAR. At week 48 (last patient visit was Nov 22, 2016), in the pooled analysis of the intention-to-treat population, 95% of participants had viral loads lower than 50 copies per mL in each group (486 of 513 in the dolutegravir-rilpivirine group vs 485 of 511 in the CAR group), with an adjusted treatment difference of -0·2% (95% CI -3·0 to 2·5) and showed non-inferiority with a predefined margin of -8%. 395 (77%) of 513 participants in the dolutegravir-rilpivirine group and 364 (71%) of 511 participants in the CAR group reported adverse events. The most common adverse events were nasopharyngitis (49 [10%] for dolutegravir-rilpivirine vs 50 [10%] for CAR) and headache (41 [8%] vs 23 [5%]). More participants taking dolutegravir-rilpivirine (17 [3%]) reported adverse events leading to withdrawal than did participants taking CAR (three [<1%]).
Interpretation: Dolutegravir-rilpivirine was non-inferior to CAR over 48 weeks in participants with HIV suppression and showed a safety profile consistent with its components. Results support the use of this two-drug regimen to maintain HIV suppression.
Funding: ViiV Healthcare and Janssen Pharmaceutica NV.
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