Background: Systemic therapies are typically combined with topical corticosteroids for the management of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis. Upadacitinib is an oral Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor with greater inhibitory potency for JAK1 than JAK2, JAK3, or tyrosine kinase 2 that is being tested for atopic dermatitis. We aimed to assess the efficacy and safety of upadacitinib plus topical corticosteroids compared with placebo for the treatment of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis.
Methods: In this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial (AD Up) adults (aged 18-75 years) and adolescents (aged 12-17 years) with chronic atopic dermatitis that was moderate to severe (≥10% of body surface area affected, Eczema Area and Severity Index [EASI] score of ≥16, validated Investigator's Global Assessment for atopic dermatitis [vIGA-AD] score of ≥3, and weekly average Worst Pruritus Numerical Rating Scale score of ≥4 at baseline) were enrolled at 171 clinical centres across 22 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and Oceania. Patients were randomly assigned (1:1:1) to receive upadacitinib 15 mg, upadacitinib 30 mg, or placebo once daily, all in combination with topical corticosteroids for 16 weeks. Randomisation was done using an interactive response technology system, stratified by baseline disease severity, geographical region, and age. Study investigators, study site personnel, and patients were masked to study treatment. The coprimary endpoints were the proportion of patients who had achieved at least a 75% reduction in EASI score from baseline (EASI-75) and the proportion of patients who had achieved a vIGA-AD response (defined as a vIGA-AD score of 0 [clear] or 1 [almost clear] with ≥2 grades of improvement from baseline) at week 16. Efficacy was analysed in the intention-to-treat population and safety was analysed in all patients who received at least one dose of study drug. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03568318, and is active, but not recruiting.
Findings: Between Aug 9, 2018, and Dec 20, 2019, 901 patients were randomly assigned to receive upadacitinib 15 mg plus topical corticosteroids (n=300), upadacitinib 30 mg plus topical corticosteroids (n=297), or placebo plus topical corticosteroids (n=304). At week 16, the proportion of patients who had achieved EASI-75 was significantly higher in the upadacitinib 15 mg plus topical corticosteroid group (194 [65%] of 300 patients) and the upadacitinib 30 mg plus topical corticosteroids group (229 [77%] of 297 patients) than the placebo group (80 [26%] of 304 patients; adjusted difference in EASI-75 response rate vs placebo, 38·1% [95% CI 30·8-45·4] for the upadacitinib 15 mg group and 50·6% [43·8-57·4] for the upadacitinib 30 mg group; p<0·0001 for both doses). The proportion of patients who had achieved a vIGA-AD response at week 16 was significantly higher in the upadacitinib 15 mg plus topical corticosteroid group (119 [40%] patients) and upadacitinib 30 mg plus topical corticosteroid group (174 [59%] patients) than the placebo group (33 [11%] patients; adjusted difference in vIGA-AD response vs placebo, 28·5% [22·1-34·9] for the upadacitinib 15 mg group and 47·6% [41·1-54·0] for the upadacitinib 30 mg group; p<0·0001 for both doses). During the double-blind period, upadacitinib 15 and 30 mg were well tolerated in combination with topical corticosteroids. The most frequently reported treatment-emergent adverse events (≥5% in any treatment group) were acne, nasopharyngitis, upper respiratory tract infection, oral herpes, elevation of blood creatine phosphokinase levels, headache, and atopic dermatitis. The incidence of acne was higher in the upadacitinib 15 mg (30 [10%] of 300 patients) and upadacitinib 30 mg (41 [14%] of 297 patients) groups than the placebo group (six [2%] of 304 patients). The incidence of adverse events leading to discontinuation of study drug (four [1%] patients in the upadacitinib 15 mg plus topical corticosteroids group, four [1%] patients in the upadacitinib 30 mg plus topical corticosteroids group, and seven [2%] patients in the placebo plus topical corticosteroids group) and serious adverse events (seven [2%] patients, four [1%] patients, and nine [3%] patients) were similar among treatment groups. No deaths were reported in any treatment group.
Interpretation: Upadacitinib plus topical corticosteroids was well tolerated and superior to placebo plus topical corticosteroids. Upadacitinib as combination therapy had a positive benefit-risk profile in adults and adolescents with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis.
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