Long-term efficacy and safety of obeticholic acid for patients with primary biliary cholangitis: 3-year results of an international open-label extension study

Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019 Jun;4(6):445-453. doi: 10.1016/S2468-1253(19)30094-9. Epub 2019 Mar 26.


Background: The aim of this study was to evaluate the long-term efficacy and safety of obeticholic acid for patients with primary biliary cholangitis using 3-year interim data from the 5-year open-label extension of the pivotal phase 3 POISE trial.

Methods: In the double-blind phase of POISE, 217 patients with primary biliary cholangitis with inadequate response to or intolerance to ursodeoxycholic acid were randomised to receive placebo, obeticholic acid 5 to 10 mg, or obeticholic acid 10 mg once daily for 12 months. During the open-label extension phase, patients received variable, adjusted doses of obeticholic acid. Markers of cholestasis and liver injury, alkaline phosphatase (ALP), and total and direct bilirubin were evaluated, and safety was assessed for up to 48 months of treatment with obeticholic acid. All analyses in the open-label extension were done in the safety population, defined as any patient randomised in the double-blind phase who received at least one dose of obeticholic acid during the open-label extension. This trial is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT01473524) and with EudraCT (2011-004728-36).

Findings: 193 patients were treated during the open-label extension. In this 3-year interim analysis, ALP concentrations were significantly reduced compared with baseline at 12 months (mean change -105·2 U/L [SD 87·6]), 24 months (-101·0 U/L [98·5]), 36 months (-108·6 U/L [95·7]), and 48 months (-95·6 U/L [121·1]; p<0·0001 for all yearly time points). Total bilirubin concentrations were stabilised, with significant reductions versus baseline at 12 months (mean change -0·9 μmol/L [SD 4·1]; p=0·0042) and 48 months (-0·8 μmol/L [3·8]; p=0·016). Stabilisation was also noted for direct bilirubin, with a significant change from baseline at 12 months (mean change -0·5 μmol/L [SD 3·0]; p=0·021). However, changes in total and direct bilirubin were not significant at other time points. Obeticholic acid was generally well tolerated, with pruritus (149 [77%] patients) and fatigue (63 [33%]) being the most common adverse events. No serious adverse events were considered related to obeticholic acid.

Interpretation: Interim analyses suggest long-term efficacy and safety of obeticholic acid in patients with primary biliary cholangitis who are intolerant to or inadequately responsive to ursodeoxycholic acid.

Funding: Intercept Pharmaceuticals.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkaline Phosphatase / analysis
  • Bilirubin / analysis
  • Chenodeoxycholic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Chenodeoxycholic Acid / adverse effects
  • Chenodeoxycholic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Cholagogues and Choleretics / administration & dosage
  • Cholagogues and Choleretics / adverse effects
  • Cholangitis / drug therapy*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pruritus / etiology
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid / adverse effects


  • Cholagogues and Choleretics
  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • obeticholic acid
  • Chenodeoxycholic Acid
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Bilirubin

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01473524