HOUSTON (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS)The risk of adverse events may be cumulative over the lifetime of patients taking oral corticosteroids for urticaria.

Dr. Dennis Ledford , professor of medicine at the University of South Florida, Tampa, and his colleagues examined records of 12,647 patients culled from a commercial claims database between January 2008 and December 2012 who had taken oral corticosteroids for chronic idiopathic or spontaneous urticaria during a 12-month period. More than half (55%) used oral corticosteroids (mean dosage of 367.5 mg) for an average of 16.2 days. At follow-up, patients displayed adverse events at a rate of 27 per 100 patient-years.

Adverse events mostly included skeletal conditions such as osteoporosis and bone fractures, but investigators also noted diabetes, hypertension, lipid disorders, depression, mania, and cataracts, Dr. Ledford said at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

More concerning, “there’s a cumulative risk,” Dr. Ledford said in an interview. “The more [prednisone equivalent] you take over your lifetime, the greater the chance is that you’re going to develop the side effects we’ve listed here.”

Using time-sensitive Cox regression models, Dr. Ledford and his colleagues determined that the risk for adverse events went up by 7% for each gram dose of prednisone equivalent to which patients were exposed after adjusting for age, sex, immunomodulator use, and Charlson Comorbidity Index. Only cataracts were not subject to the cumulative effects.

“The message of this fairly large analysis is that there are cumulative side effects to prednisone that may not be evident to the physician or clinician performing day-to-day care of patients,” Dr. Ledford said. “These effects are slow to develop and often present in areas of medicine that the physician treating urticaria would not take care of.”

Patients enrolled in this study had all been diagnosed with urticaria at either of two outpatient clinic visits at least 6 weeks apart in a single calendar year, or had received one diagnosis of urticaria and one of angioedema at two separate outpatient clinics at least 6 weeks apart. Patients were followed for at least 1 year after completion of the initial 12-month study period, until end of enrollment or end of study.

Dr. Ledford stressed the need to use noncorticosteroid therapies when treating chronic urticaria, such as calcineurin inhibitors – which also carry risks of hypertension and cancer – or omalizumab.

The study was funded by Genentech and Novartis Pharma AG which market omalizumab as Xolair. Dr. Ledford disclosed that he is affiliated with Genentech, Novartis Pharma AG, and a number of other pharmaceutical companies.


You May Also Like