Adv Ther. 2022 Aug 1. doi: 10.1007/s12325-022-02253-8. Online ahead of print.
INTRODUCTION: Evaluating overall survival in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) can often be confounded by bias introduced by treatment switching. SERAPHIN was a large RCT that evaluated the effects of long-term treatment with the endothelin receptor antagonist macitentan in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension. In an intent-to-treat (ITT) analysis, a non-significant decrease in the risk of all-cause mortality up to study closure was reported with macitentan 10 mg versus placebo. As patients could switch treatment when experiencing symptoms of disease progression, this analysis attempts to adjust for the confounding effects on overall survival.
METHODS: The inverse probability of censoring weighted (IPCW) and rank-preserving structural failure time (RPSFT) models were used to estimate the treatment effect on overall mortality had there been no treatment switching in SERAPHIN. Time to all-cause death was evaluated up to study closure. Treatment switching was defined as patients in the placebo group switching to open-label macitentan 10 mg, and patients in the macitentan 10 mg group prematurely discontinuing macitentan.
RESULTS: By study closure, 73.2% (183/250) of patients in the placebo group had switched to macitentan 10 mg. Among these patients, exposure time to macitentan 10 mg represented 28.2% of total study treatment exposure (cumulative exposure 134.6 patient-years). At study closure, 24.8% (60/242) of patients in the macitentan 10 mg group were not receiving open-label macitentan; mean time not receiving macitentan was 44.3 weeks. The adjusted hazard ratios (HR) for overall survival using the IPCW and RPSFT methods were lower (HR 0.42, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.22, 0.81; p = 0.009, and HR 0.33, 95% CI 0.04, 2.83, respectively) than the ITT unadjusted HR (0.80, 95% CI 0.51, 1.24).
CONCLUSION: These results from the current analyses indicate that in SERAPHIN, the standard ITT analysis was confounded by treatment switching resulting in an underestimation of the benefit of macitentan 10 mg on overall survival. By adjusting for switching, the IPCW and RPSFT models estimated a 58% and 67% reduction in risk of mortality, respectively, with macitentan 10 mg versus placebo.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00660179.