Dupilumab in Adults with Moderate-to-Severe Atopic Dermatitis and Prior Use of Systemic Non-Steroidal Immunosuppressants: Analysis of Four Phase 3 Trials

Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2021 Aug;11(4):1357-1372. doi: 10.1007/s13555-021-00558-0. Epub 2021 Jun 18.


Introduction: Dupilumab is approved as first-line systemic treatment for adults/adolescents with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis (AD) in Europe and elsewhere owing to its favourable benefit-risk profile. However, systemic non-steroidal immunosuppressants (NSISS) are often used as first-line therapy in clinical practice. Impact of prior therapy with NSISS on dupilumab's treatment effect vs. control has not been described previously. This study assessed dupilumab's efficacy vs. control in patients with moderate-to-severe AD, comparing treatment effect in patients with/without prior systemic NSISS therapy, in four phase 3 trials.

Methods: This post hoc analysis included 1553 patients randomized to placebo or dupilumab (300 mg q2w) as monotherapy for 16 weeks, or with concomitant topical corticosteroids (TCS) for 16/52 weeks, from four randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trials. Patients were stratified by prior use of systemic NSISS and dupilumab-treated patients were analysed against control groups (treated with placebo or placebo + TCS).

Results: Dupilumab-treated patients, regardless of prior treatment with NSISS, achieved a significantly higher percentage reduction from baseline in Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI), SCORing Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD), Dermatology life Quality Index (DLQI), and Patient-Oriented Eczema Measure (POEM) vs. control; significantly more achieved EASI score ≤ 7, Peak Pruritus Numerical Rating Scale ≤ 4, POEM ≤ 7, and DLQI ≤ 5 by week 4. These rapid, significant improvements were seen with or without concomitant TCS and sustained through end-of-treatment.

Conclusions: Dupilumab treatment (monotherapy or + TCS) provides rapid, significant, sustained improvements in signs, symptoms, and quality of life in patients with moderate-to-severe AD compared with control, regardless of prior systemic NSISS use.

Clinical trial registration: LIBERTY AD SOLO 1: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT02277743, EudraCT 2014-001198-15. LIBERTY AD SOLO 2: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT02277769, EudraCT 2014-002619-40.

Liberty ad chronos: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT02260986, EudraCT 2013-003254-24. LIBERTY AD CAFÉ: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT02755649, EudraCT 2015-002653-35.

Keywords: Atopic dermatitis; Clinical trial; Dupilumab; Immunosuppressants.

Plain language summary

Atopic dermatitis (AD), also known as eczema, is characterized by red, oozy, and dry skin that can become cracked and infected. Dupilumab is a drug that blocks key molecules that cause allergic conditions, such as AD. It has been shown to be effective in treating moderate-to-severe AD. Other drugs commonly used to treat AD include certain anti-inflammatory drugs, known as non-steroidal immunosuppressants (NSISS), such as cyclosporin. It is not known if patients treated in the past with NSISS get the same results from AD treatment with dupilumab. This analysis used data from four large studies that included patients with moderate-to-severe AD. The objective was to see if prior NSISS use impacted how dupilumab worked to control AD. The researchers looked at a range of measurements—including ones that were assessed by a patient’s doctor such as measurements of AD skin lesions. Itching and how patients felt about their overall life quality were also analysed (which included items such as sleep, pain, ability to work or do normal leisure activities, etc.). The researchers found that if a patient had taken an NSISS for AD before taking dupilumab, it had no impact on the efficacy of dupilumab. All of the measurements evaluated improved significantly more in patients treated with dupilumab than in patients taking a placebo (dummy) medication. The benefits of treatment occurred within a few weeks of starting dupilumab treatment and remained until the end of the longest study included in this analysis, 1 year.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02755649
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02260986
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02277769
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02277743