Early treatment with baloxavir marboxil in high-risk adolescent and adult outpatients with uncomplicated influenza (CAPSTONE-2): a randomised, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial

Lancet Infect Dis. 2020 Oct;20(10):1204-1214. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30004-9. Epub 2020 Jun 8.


Background: Baloxavir marboxil (hereafter baloxavir), a selective inhibitor of influenza cap-dependent endonuclease, was approved in 2018 in the USA and Japan for the treatment of uncomplicated influenza in otherwise healthy individuals aged 12 years and older. We aimed to study the efficacy of baloxavir in outpatients at high risk of developing influenza-associated complications.

Methods: We did a double-blind, placebo-controlled and oseltamivir-controlled trial in outpatients aged 12 years and older in 551 sites in 17 countries and territories. Eligible patients had clinically diagnosed influenza-like illness, at least one risk factor for influenza-associated complications (eg, age older than 65 years), and a symptom duration of less than 48 h. Patients were stratified by baseline symptom score (≤14 vs ≥15), pre-existing and worsened symptoms at onset of illness compared with pre-influenza (yes or no), region (Asia, North America and Europe, or southern hemisphere), and weight (<80 kg vs ≥80 kg), and randomly assigned (1:1:1) via an interactive web-response system to either a single weight-based dose of baloxavir (40 mg for patients weighing <80 kg and 80 mg for patients weighing ≥80 kg; baloxavir group), oseltamivir 75 mg twice daily for 5 days (oseltamivir group), or matching placebo (placebo group). All patients, investigators, study personnel, and data analysts were masked to treatment assignment until database lock. The primary endpoint was time to improvement of influenza symptoms (TTIIS) in the modified intention-to-treat population, which included all patients who received at least one dose of study drug and had RT-PCR-confirmed influenza virus infection. Safety was assessed in all patients who receved at least one dose of study drug. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02949011.

Findings: 2184 patients were enrolled from Jan 11, 2017, to March 30, 2018, and randomly assigned to receive baloxavir (n=730), placebo (n=729), or oseltamivir (n=725). The modified intention-to-treat population included 1163 patients: 388 in the baloxavir group, 386 in the placebo group, and 389 in the oseltamivir group. 557 (48%) of 1163 patients had influenza A H3N2, 484 (42%) had influenza B, 80 (7%) had influenza A H1N1, 14 patients had a mixed infection, and 28 had infections with non-typable viruses. The median TTIIS was shorter in the baloxavir group (73·2 h [95% CI 67·2 to 85·1]) than in the placebo group (102·3 h [92·7 to 113·1]; difference 29·1 h [95% CI 14·6 to 42·8]; p<0·0001). The median TTIIS in the oseltamivir group was 81·0 h (95% CI 69·4 to 91·5), with a difference from the baloxavir group of 7·7 h (-7·9 to 22·7). Adverse events were reported in 183 (25%) of 730 patients in the baloxavir group, 216 (30%) of 727 in the placebo group, and 202 (28%) of 721 in the oseltamivir group. Serious adverse events were noted in five patients in the baloxavir group, nine patients in the placebo group, and eight patients in the oseltamivir group; one case each of hypertension and nausea in the placebo group and two cases of transaminase elevation in the oseltamivir group were considered to be treatment related. Polymerase acidic protein variants with Ile38Thr, Ile38Met, or Ile38Asn substitutions conferring reduced baloxavir susceptibility emerged in 15 (5%) of 290 baloxavir recipients assessed for amino acid substitutions in the virus.

Interpretation: Single-dose baloxavir has superior efficacy to placebo and similar efficacy to oseltamivir for ameliorating influenza symptoms in high-risk outpatients. The safety of baloxavir was comparable to placebo. This study supports early therapy for patients at high risk of complications of influenza to speed clinical recovery and reduce complications.

Funding: Shionogi.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antiviral Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Dibenzothiepins
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morpholines
  • Oseltamivir / therapeutic use*
  • Oxazines / administration & dosage
  • Oxazines / therapeutic use*
  • Pyridines / administration & dosage
  • Pyridines / therapeutic use*
  • Pyridones
  • Thiepins / administration & dosage
  • Thiepins / therapeutic use*
  • Triazines / administration & dosage
  • Triazines / therapeutic use*
  • Young Adult


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Dibenzothiepins
  • Morpholines
  • Oxazines
  • Pyridines
  • Pyridones
  • Thiepins
  • Triazines
  • Oseltamivir
  • baloxavir

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02949011