Switching from tenofovir disoproxil fumarate to tenofovir alafenamide in virologically suppressed patients with chronic hepatitis B: a randomised, double-blind, phase 3, multicentre non-inferiority study

Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020 May;5(5):441-453. doi: 10.1016/S2468-1253(19)30421-2. Epub 2020 Feb 20.


Background: Treatment with tenofovir disoproxil fumarate has been associated with renal toxicity or reductions in bone mineral density, or both, in some patients with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Tenofovir alafenamide is a tenofovir prodrug with high intrahepatic concentrations of active drug and reduced systemic tenofovir exposures compared with tenofovir disoproxil fumarate. In patients with chronic HBV, tenofovir alafenamide has shown efficacy non-inferior to that of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate with improved renal and bone safety. With this non-inferiority study, we aimed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of tenofovir alafenamide in patients with HBV infection switching from tenofovir disoproxil fumarate who are virally suppressed.

Methods: Patients with chronic HBV infection who had been receiving tenofovir disoproxil fumarate for 48 weeks or more and who had HBV DNA less than the lower limit of quantification (LLOQ) for at least 12 weeks were recruited to this randomised, multicentre, double-blind, phase 3 non-inferiority study. Patients were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive tenofovir alafenamide 25 mg once a day or to continue tenofovir disoproxil fumarate 300 mg once a day. The primary efficacy endpoint was loss of virological control, defined as the proportion of patients who received at least one dose of study drug who had HBV DNA of at least 20 IU/mL at week 48 by the modified US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) snapshot algorithm. Key safety endpoints were changes in hip and spine bone mineral density, estimated creatinine clearance by Cockcroft-Gault, and markers of bone turnover and renal tubular function. The study was powered for non-inferiority in efficacy of tenofovir alafenamide versus tenofovir disoproxil fumarate with a 4% margin. Investigators and patients were unaware of treatment allocation and on-treatment results. This trial is ongoing and is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT02979613.

Findings: Participants in this study were enrolled between Dec 29, 2016, and Oct 20, 2017. 541 patients were screened and 490 patients were randomly assigned to switch to tenofovir alafenamide or to stay on tenofovir disoproxil fumarate. Two patients assigned to receive tenofovir alafenamide did not receive treatment; thus the full analysis set for efficacy and safety analyses consisted of 243 patients in the tenofovir alafenamide group and 245 in the tenofovir disoproxil fumarate group. At week 48, one patient from each treatment group (both <1%) had HBV DNA of at least 20 IU/mL (difference in proportion 0·0%, 95% CI -1·9 to 2·0), thereby showing non-inferior efficacy of tenofovir alafenamide to tenofovir disoproxil fumarate. Patients who received tenofovir alafenamide had significantly increased bone mineral density at hip (mean change 0·66% [SD 2·08] vs -0·51% [SD 1·91]; difference in least square means 1·17% [95% CI 0·80 to 1·54; p<0·0001]) and at spine (mean change 1·74% [3·46] vs -0·11% [3·13]; difference in least square means 1·85% [1·24 to 2·46; p<0·0001]), creatinine clearance by Cockcroft-Gault relative to tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (median change 0·94 mL/min [IQR -4·47 to 6·24] vs -2·74 mL/min [-7·89 to 1·88]; p <0·0001), and improved markers of bone turnover and tubular function at week 48. The most common treatment-emergent adverse events were upper respiratory tract infection (18 [7%] of 243 patients in the tenofovir alafenamide group and 16 [7%] of 245 patients in the tenofovir disoproxil fumarate group) and nasopharyngitis (13 [5%] of 243 patients in the tenofovir alafenamide group and 12 [5%] of 245 patients in the tenofovir disoproxil fumarate group). The incidence of grade 3 and above adverse events and serious adverse events was low and similar between groups. No viral resistance was observed in patients who qualified for viral sequencing.

Interpretation: These findings suggest that tenofovir alafenamide can be substituted for tenofovir disoproxil fumarate in patients with HBV infection for improved safety without a loss of efficacy.

Funding: Gilead Sciences.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Equivalence Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenine / adverse effects
  • Adenine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Adenine / therapeutic use
  • Alanine
  • Antiviral Agents / adverse effects
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bone Density / drug effects
  • Creatinine / blood
  • DNA, Viral / blood*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Substitution
  • Female
  • Hepatitis B virus*
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / blood
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasopharyngitis / chemically induced
  • Renal Insufficiency / chemically induced
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / chemically induced
  • Sustained Virologic Response
  • Tenofovir / therapeutic use*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • DNA, Viral
  • Tenofovir
  • Creatinine
  • tenofovir alafenamide
  • Adenine
  • Alanine

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02979613