Serious Adverse Effects of Extended-release Niacin/Laropiprant: Results From the Heart Protection Study 2-Treatment of HDL to Reduce the Incidence of Vascular Events (HPS2-THRIVE) Trial

Clin Ther. 2019 Sep;41(9):1767-1777. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2019.06.012. Epub 2019 Aug 22.


Purpose: The Heart Protection Study 2-Treatment of HDL to Reduce the Incidence of Vascular Events (HPS2-THRIVE) trial of patients at high risk of vascular disease found that adding extended-release niacin-laropiprant to intensive statin-based LDL-lowering therapy had no benefit on cardiovascular outcomes. However, the trial also identified previously unrecognized serious adverse effects (including new-onset diabetes, bleeding, and infection). Our objective was to explore the safety profile of niacin-laropiprant and examine whether any patients were at lower (or higher) risk of its adverse effects.

Methods: HPS2-THRIVE was a randomized, double-blind trial of niacin-laropiprant (2000/40 mg/d) versus placebo among 25,673 patients at high risk of vascular disease. Information on all serious adverse events was collected during a median of 3.9 years of study treatment. Effects of niacin-laropiprant on new-onset diabetes, disturbances of diabetes control, bleeding, infection, and gastrointestinal upset were estimated by (1) time after randomization, (2) severity, (3) baseline characteristics, (4) baseline risk of the adverse event of interest, and (5) risk of major vascular event.

Findings: The hazard ratio (HR) for new-onset diabetes with niacin/laropiprant was 1.32 (95% CI, 1.16-1.51; P < .001), which corresponded to an absolute excess of 4 people (95% CI, 2-6) developing diabetes per 1000 person-years in the study population as a whole. Among the 8299 participants with diabetes at baseline, the HR for serious disturbances in diabetes control was 1.56 (95% CI, 1.35-1.80), corresponding to an absolute excess of 12 (95% CI, 8-16) per 1000 person-years. The HR was 1.38 (95% CI, 1.17-1.63; P < .001) for serious bleeding, corresponding to an absolute excess of 2 (95% CI, 1-3) per 1000 person-years and 1.22 (95% CI, 1.11-1.34; P < .001) for serious infection, corresponding to an absolute excess of 4 (95% CI, 2-6) per 1000 person-years. The excess risks of these serious adverse events were larger in the first year after starting niacin-laropiprant therapy than in later years (except for the excess of infection, which did not appear to attenuate with time), and the risks of nonfatal and fatal events were similarly increased. The absolute excesses of each of these adverse effects were similar regardless of the baseline risk of the outcome.

Implications: Practitioners or patients considering the use of niacin (in addition to, or instead of, a statin) despite the lack of evidence of cardiovascular benefits (at least when added to effective statin therapy) should take account of the significant risks of these serious adverse effects when making such decisions. identifier: NCT00461630.

Keywords: adverse effects; bleeding; cardiovascular disease; infection; niacin.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Delayed-Action Preparations / adverse effects
  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Dyslipidemias / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Incidence
  • Indoles / adverse effects*
  • Infections / etiology
  • Male
  • Niacin / adverse effects*


  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Hypolipidemic Agents
  • Indoles
  • MK-0524
  • Niacin

Associated data