Background: Metabolic acidosis, a complication of chronic kidney disease, causes protein catabolism and bone demineralisation and is associated with adverse kidney outcomes and mortality. Veverimer, a non-absorbed, counterion-free, polymeric drug candidate selectively binds and removes hydrochloric acid from the gastrointestinal lumen.
Methods: We did a multicentre, randomised, blinded, placebo-controlled, 40-week extension of a 12-week parent study at 29 sites (hospitals and specialty clinics) in seven countries (Bulgaria, Georgia, Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine, and the USA). Eligible patients were those with chronic kidney disease (estimated glomerular filtration rate 20-40 mL/min per 1·73 m2) and metabolic acidosis (serum bicarbonate 12-20 mmol/L), who had completed the 12-week parent study, for which they were randomly assigned (4:3) to veverimer (6 g/day) or placebo as oral suspensions in water with food. Participants in the extension continued with the same treatment assignment as in the parent study. The primary endpoint was safety; the four secondary endpoints assessed the long-term effects of veverimer on serum bicarbonate concentration and physical functioning. The safety analysis set was defined as all patients who received any amount of study drug. This trial is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT03390842, and has now completed.
Findings: Participants entered the study between Dec 20, 2017, and May 4, 2018. Of the 217 patients randomly assigned to treatment in the parent study (124 to veverimer and 93 to placebo), 196 patients (114 veverimer and 82 placebo) continued on their blinded randomised treatment assignment into this 40-week extension study. Compared with placebo, fewer patients on veverimer discontinued treatment prematurely (3% vs 10%, respectively), and no patients on veverimer discontinued because of an adverse event. Serious adverse events occurred in 2% of veverimer-treated patients and in 5% of placebo patients (two of whom died). Renal system adverse events were reported in 8% and 15% in the veverimer and placebo groups, respectively. More patients on veverimer than placebo had an increase in bicarbonate (≥4 mmol/L or normalisation) at week 52 (63% vs 38%, p=0·0015) and higher bicarbonate concentrations were observed with veverimer than placebo at all timepoints starting at week 1 (p<0·001). Veverimer resulted in improved patient-reported physical functioning (Kidney Disease and Quality of Life-Physical Function Domain) versus placebo with a mean placebo-subtracted change at end of treatment of 12·1 points (SE 3·3; p<0·0001). Time to do the repeat chair stand test improved by 4·3 s (1·2) on veverimer versus 1·4 s (1·2) on placebo (p<0·0001).
Interpretation: In patients with chronic kidney disease and metabolic acidosis, veverimer safely and effectively corrected metabolic acidosis and improved subjective and objective measures of physical function.
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