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1.  Efficacy and safety of aclidinium bromide/formoterol fumarate fixed-dose combinations compared with individual components and placebo in patients with COPD (ACLIFORM-COPD): a multicentre, randomised study 
BMC Pulmonary Medicine  2014;14(1):178.
Aclidinium/formoterol is a twice-daily (BID) fixed-dose combination (FDC) in development for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The efficacy and safety of aclidinium/formoterol versus monotherapy and placebo in patients with COPD was assessed.
In this 24-week double-blind, parallel-group, active- and placebo-controlled, multicentre Phase III study, patients (≥40 years, post-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1]/forced vital capacity <70% and FEV1 ≥30% but <80% predicted normal) were randomised 2:2:2:2:1 to aclidinium/formoterol 400/12 μg (n = 385) or 400/6 μg (n = 381), aclidinium 400 μg (n = 385), formoterol 12 μg (n = 384) or placebo (n = 194) BID via Genuair®/Pressair®a.
At Week 24, aclidinium/formoterol 400/12 μg and 400/6 μg lead to significant improvements from baseline in 1-hour post-dose FEV1 versus aclidinium (125 mL [95% CI: 90, 160; p < 0 · 001] and 69 mL [95% CI: 34, 105; p < 0.001], respectively) and trough FEV1 versus formoterol (85 mL [95% CI: 51, 119; p < 0.001] and 53 mL [95% CI: 19, 87; p < 0.01], respectively; co-primary endpoints). Additionally, aclidinium/formoterol 400/12 μg and 400/6 μg provided significant improvements in Transition Dyspnoea Index (TDI) focal score versus placebo (1.29 units [95% CI: 0.73, 1.86; p < 0.001] and 1.16 units [95% CI: 0.59, 1.73; p < 0.001], respectively; secondary endpoint). All treatments were well tolerated, with safety profiles of the FDCs similar to those of placebo and monotherapy.
Both aclidinium/formoterol BID doses significantly improved bronchodilation versus monotherapy, and dyspnoea versus placebo, with no increase in safety risk. Aclidinium/formoterol may be an effective treatment for patients with COPD.
Trial registration NCT01462942.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2466-14-178) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4273456  PMID: 25404569
Aclidinium bromide/formoterol fumarate; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Fixed-dose combination
2.  Efficacy and safety of once-daily fluticasone furoate 50 mcg in adults with persistent asthma: a 12-week randomized trial 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):88.
Fluticasone furoate (FF) is a novel, once-daily inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) that has been shown to improve lung function vs. placebo in asthma patients. This study evaluated the efficacy and safety of FF 50 mcg compared with placebo in asthma patients uncontrolled by non-ICS therapy.
This 12-week, multicentre, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, phase III study randomized 248 patients (aged ≥12 years) to once-daily FF 50 mcg administered via the ELLIPTA™a dry powder inhaler or placebo. The primary endpoint was change from baseline in pre-dose evening trough forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1). Secondary endpoints were change from baseline in percentage of rescue-free 24-h periods (powered), evening and morning peak expiratory flow, symptom-free 24-h periods and withdrawals due to lack of efficacy. Other endpoints included Asthma Control Test™, Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire and ELLIPTA ease of use questions. Safety was assessed throughout the study.
There was a significant difference in evening trough FEV1 between FF 50 mcg and placebo (treatment difference: 120 mL; p = 0.012). There was also a significant difference in rescue-free 24-h periods (11.6%; p = 0.004) vs. placebo. There were numerically greater improvements with FF vs. placebo for all remaining secondary endpoints. The incidence of adverse events was lower with FF (31%) than with placebo (38%); few were treatment-related (FF 50 mcg: n = 1, <1%; placebo: n = 4, 3%).
FF 50 mcg once daily significantly improved FEV1 and percentage of rescue-free 24-h periods experienced over 12 weeks vs. placebo, and was well tolerated.
Trial registration, registration number: NCT01436071
PMCID: PMC4256920  PMID: 25108545
Fluticasone furoate; Inhaled corticosteroid; Lung function; Once daily; Safety
3.  Efficacy and safety of fluticasone furoate 100 μg and 200 μg once daily in the treatment of moderate-severe asthma in adults and adolescents: a 24-week randomised study 
BMC Pulmonary Medicine  2014;14:113.
Inhaled corticosteroids are a mainstay of therapy for persistent asthma, but suboptimal adherence with twice-daily use is widespread. Fluticasone furoate (FF) is a new inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) suitable for once-daily dosing in asthma. This study was performed to descriptively assess the efficacy and safety of two doses of FF, with no planned formal statistical hypothesis testing.
This was a 24-week double-blind, multicentre, parallel-group study (NCT01431950). Patients aged ≥ 12 years with moderate-severe persistent asthma and uncontrolled on mid-high dose ICS were stratified by baseline FEV1 and randomised (1:1) to treatment with FF 100 μg or 200 μg once daily in the evening. The primary endpoint was change from baseline trough FEV1 after 24 weeks; secondary and other endpoints included peak expiratory flow (PEF) and rescue-free and symptom-free 24-hour periods over Weeks 1–24, and Asthma Control Test™ (ACT) score at Week 24. A pre-specified subgroup analysis of patients by randomisation strata was performed for the primary and selected secondary and other endpoints. Safety assessments included adverse events, laboratory and vital sign measurements, and change from baseline in 24-hour urinary cortisol at Week 24.
With FF 100 μg and 200 μg, least squares mean trough FEV1 improved from baseline by 208 mL and 284 mL, respectively, at Week 24; treatment difference: 77 mL (95% CI: –39, 192). Similar improvements from baseline in rescue- and symptom-free periods, and morning and evening PEF were observed in both groups. Patients were 42% more likely to be well-controlled (ACT score ≥ 20) with FF 200 μg than with FF 100 μg. Slightly more patients receiving FF 200 μg vs. FF 100 μg reported adverse events (63% vs. 59%) and events deemed treatment related (5% vs. <1%). Seven serious adverse events (FF 200 μg 4; FF 100 μg 3) were reported, none of which were deemed treatment related. No clinically relevant effects of either dose on 24-hour urinary cortisol were observed.
Improvements from baseline in trough FEV1 were observed after 24 weeks of treatment with both doses of FF, with a numerically greater improvement in FEV1 observed in patients receiving FF 200 μg. Secondary endpoint findings were similar between groups. No safety concerns were identified during the study.
PMCID: PMC4107726  PMID: 25007865
4.  Comparison of vilanterol, a novel long-acting beta2 agonist, with placebo and a salmeterol reference arm in asthma uncontrolled by inhaled corticosteroids 
Current maintenance therapies for asthma require twice-daily dosing. Vilanterol (VI) is a novel long-acting beta2 agonist, under development in combination with fluticasone furoate, a new inhaled corticosteroid (ICS). Findings from a previous 4-week study suggested that VI has inherent 24-hour activity and is therefore suitable for once-daily dosing. The study described here was a double-blind, double-dummy, randomised, placebo-controlled trial, the aim of which was to assess the efficacy of once-daily VI compared with placebo in patients with persistent asthma. The primary endpoint was change from baseline in 24-hour weighted mean forced expiratory volume in 1 second after 12 weeks of treatment vs. placebo. An active control arm received salmeterol (SAL) twice daily. All patients were maintained on a stable background dose of ICS.
Patients (n = 347) received VI, placebo or SAL (1:1:1). For the primary endpoint, substantial improvements in lung function were seen with VI (359 ml), SAL (283 ml) and placebo (289 ml). There were no statistically significant treatment differences between either the VI (70 ml, P = 0.244) or SAL (-6 ml, P = 0.926) groups and placebo. Both active treatments were well tolerated, with similarly low rates of treatment-related adverse events compared with placebo. No treatment-related serious adverse events occurred.
This study failed to show a treatment difference between VI and placebo for the primary endpoint, in the presence of a placebo response of unforeseen magnitude. Because the placebo response was so large, it is not possible to draw meaningful conclusions from the data. The reason for this magnitude of effect is unclear but it may reflect increased compliance with the anti-inflammatory therapy regimen during the treatment period.
Trial registration
NCT01181895 at
PMCID: PMC4055937  PMID: 24928338
Asthma; Bronchodilators; Long-acting beta agonist; Lung function; Placebo response; Randomised trial; Salmeterol; Vilanterol
5.  Elevated IP-10 and IL-6 from Bronchoalveolar Lavage Cells are Biomarkers of Non-Cavitary Tuberculosis 
Tuberculosis (TB) causes nearly 1.5 million deaths annually worldwide. Active TB disease can destroy lung parenchyma leading to cavities. Immune responses that predispose or protect individuals from lung damage during tuberculosis are poorly defined.
Enrolled subjects (N=73) had bilateral infiltrates and underwent bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) to sample lung immune cells and assay BAL cell cytokine production.
All had sputum culture demonstrating Mycobacterium tuberculosis and 22/73 (30%) had cavities on their chest radiograph. Those with cavities at presentation had higher percent PMN in BAL as well as lower IP-10 (p<0.01) and IL-6 (p=0.013) in BAL cell supernatants, compared to those without cavities. There was no correlation between cavities and other BAL or serum cytokines. IP-10 was negatively associated with BAL PMN. IP-10 and IL-6 expression above median decrease the odds of cavities by 79% and 78% in logistic regression models. IP-10 and IL-6 clustered with IFN-γ and TNF-α in a principal component analysis while IL-4 clustered with PMN.
Increasing IP-10 and IL-6 production by BAL cells is associated with non-cavitary tuberculosis in patients who present with radiographically advanced TB. IP-10 and IL-6 may reflect an effective Th-1 immune control pathway for TB, attenuating tuberculous lung destruction.
PMCID: PMC4050635  PMID: 23743311
biomarkers; cavitary tuberculosis; Th-1; innate immunity
6.  Supporting middle-cadre health care workers in Malawi: lessons learned during implementation of the PALM PLUS package 
BMC Health Services Research  2014;14(Suppl 1):S8.
The government of Malawi is committed to the broad rollout of antiretroviral treatment in Malawi in the public health sector; however one of the primary challenges has been the shortage of trained health care workers. The Practical Approach to Lung Health Plus HIV/AIDS in Malawi (PALM PLUS) package is an innovative guideline and training intervention that supports primary care middle-cadre health care workers to provide front-line integrated primary care. The purpose of this paper is to describe the lessons learned in implementing the PALM PLUS package.
A clinical tool, based on algorithm- and symptom-based guidelines was adapted to the Malawian context. An accompanying training program based on educational outreach principles was developed and a cascade training approach was used for implementation of the PALM PLUS package in 30 health centres, targeting clinical officers, medical assistants, and nurses. Lessons learned were identified during program implementation through engagement with collaborating partners and program participants and review of program evaluation findings.
Key lessons learned for successful program implementation of the PALM PLUS package include the importance of building networks for peer-based support, ensuring adequate training capacity, making linkages with continuing professional development accreditation and providing modest in-service training budgets. The main limiting factors to implementation were turnover of staff and desire for financial training allowances.
The PALM PLUS approach is a potential model for supporting mid-level health care workers to provide front-line integrated primary care in low and middle income countries, and may be useful for future task-shifting initiatives.
PMCID: PMC4108880  PMID: 25080192
training; educational outreach; task-shifting; continuing professional development; antiretroviral treatment; integrated primary care; nurses; clinical officers; medical assistants; health surveillance assistants; guideline; train-the-trainer; south-south collaboration; formation; sensibilisation; délégation de tâches; formation continue; soins primaires intégrés; personnel infirmier; personnel clinique; auxiliaires médicaux; adjoints à la surveillance sanitaire; lignes directrices; formation des formateurs; collaboration Sud-Sud
7.  A blinded evaluation of the efficacy and safety of glycopyrronium, a once-daily long-acting muscarinic antagonist, versus tiotropium, in patients with COPD: the GLOW5 study 
Two once-daily long-acting muscarinic antagonists (LAMAs) are currently available for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – tiotropium and glycopyrronium. Previous studies have compared glycopyrronium with open-label tiotropium. In the GLOW5 study, we compare glycopyrronium with blinded tiotropium.
In this blinded, double-dummy, parallel group, 12-week study, patients with moderate-to-severe COPD were randomized 1:1 to glycopyrronium 50 μg once daily or tiotropium 18 μg once daily. The primary objective was to demonstrate the non-inferiority of glycopyrronium versus blinded tiotropium with respect to trough forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) following 12 weeks of treatment (non-inferiority margin: –50 mL). Secondary objectives were to evaluate glycopyrronium versus tiotropium for other spirometric outcomes, breathlessness (Transition Dyspnea Index; TDI), health status (St George’s Respiratory Questionnaire; SGRQ), daily rescue medication use, COPD exacerbations and COPD symptoms over 12 weeks of treatment.
657 patients were randomized (glycopyrronium: 327; tiotropium: 330); 96% (630 patients) completed the study. Least squares mean trough FEV1 for both glycopyrronium and tiotropium was 1.405 L at Week 12, meeting the criterion for non-inferiority (mean treatment difference: 0 mL, 95% CI: –32, 31 mL). Glycopyrronium demonstrated rapid bronchodilation following first dose on Day 1, with significantly higher FEV1 at all time points from 0–4 h post-dose versus tiotropium (all p < 0.001). FEV1 area under the curve from 0–4 h (AUC0–4h) post-dose with glycopyrronium was significantly superior to tiotropium on Day 1 (p < 0.001) and was comparable to tiotropium at Week 12. Glycopyrronium demonstrated comparable improvements to tiotropium in TDI focal score, SGRQ total score, rescue medication use and the rate of COPD exacerbations (all p = not significant). Patients on glycopyrronium also had a significantly lower total COPD symptom score versus patients on tiotropium after 12 weeks (p = 0.035). Adverse events were reported by a similar percentage of patients receiving glycopyrronium (40.4%) and tiotropium (40.6%).
In patients with moderate-to-severe COPD, 12-week blinded treatment with once-daily glycopyrronium 50 μg or tiotropium 18 μg, provided similar efficacy and safety, with glycopyrronium having a faster onset of action on Day 1 versus tiotropium.
Trial registration, NCT01613326
PMCID: PMC3907130  PMID: 24438744
COPD; Glycopyrronium; Breezhaler; Tiotropium; Bronchodilator; Long-acting muscarinic antagonist; Blinding
8.  Efficacy and Safety of Fluticasone Furoate/Vilanterol Compared With Fluticasone Propionate/Salmeterol Combination in Adult and Adolescent Patients With Persistent Asthma 
Chest  2013;144(4):1222-1229.
The combination of fluticasone furoate (FF), a novel inhaled corticosteroid (ICS), and vilanterol (VI), a long-acting β2 agonist, is under development as a once-daily treatment of asthma and COPD. The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy of FF/VI with fluticasone propionate (FP)/salmeterol (SAL) in patients with persistent asthma uncontrolled on a medium dose of ICS.
In a randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, parallel group study, 806 patients received FF/VI (100/25 μg, n = 403) once daily in the evening delivered through ELLIPTA (GlaxoSmithKline) dry powder inhaler, or FP/SAL (250/50 μg, n = 403) bid through DISKUS/ACCUHALER (GlaxoSmithKline). The primary efficacy measure was 0- to 24-h serial weighted mean (wm) FEV1 after 24 weeks of treatment.
Improvements from baseline in 0- to 24-h wmFEV1 were observed with both FF/VI (341 mL) and FP/SAL (377 mL); the adjusted mean treatment difference was not statistically significant (−37 mL; 95% CI, −88 to 15, P = 0.162). There were no differences between 0- to 4-h serial wmFEV1, trough FEV1, and asthma control and quality-of-life questionnaire scores. There was no difference in reported exacerbations between treatments. Both treatments were well tolerated, with no clinically relevant effect on urinary cortisol excretion or vital signs and no treatment-related serious adverse events.
The efficacy of once-daily FF/VI was similar to bid FP/SAL in improving lung function in patients with persistent asthma. No safety issues were identified.
Trial registry:; No.: NCT01147848; URL:
PMCID: PMC3787916  PMID: 23846316
9.  Increased Production of IL-4 and IL-12p40 from Bronchoalveolar Lavage Cells Are Biomarkers of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the Sputum 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59461.
Tuberculosis (TB) causes 1.45 million deaths annually world wide, the majority of which occur in the developing world. Active TB disease represents immune failure to control latent infection from airborne spread. Acid-fast bacillus (AFB) seen on sputum smear is a biomarker for contagiousness.
We enrolled 73 tuberculosis patients with extensive infiltrates into a research study using bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) to sample lung immune cells and assay BAL cell cytokine production. All patients had sputum culture demonstrating Mycobacterium tuberculosis and 59/73 (81%) had AFB identified by microscopy of the sputum. Compared with smear negative patients, smear positive patients at presentation had a higher proportion with smoking history, a higher proportion with temperature >38.50 C, higher BAL cells/ml, lower percent lymphocytes in BAL, higher IL-4 and IL-12p40 in BAL cell supernatants. There was no correlation between AFB smear and other BAL or serum cytokines. Increasing IL-4 was associated with BAL PMN and negatively associated with BAL lymphocytes. Each 10-fold increase in BAL IL-4 and IL-12p40 increased the odds of AFB smear positivity by 7.4 and 2.2-fold, respectively, in a multi-variable logistic model.
Increasing IL-4 and IL-12p40 production by BAL cells are biomarkers for AFB in sputum of patients who present with radiographically advanced TB. They likely reflect less effective immune control of pathways for controlling TB, leading to patients with increased infectiousness.
PMCID: PMC3603887  PMID: 23527200
10.  Case-finding options for COPD: Results from the BOLD Study 
The European respiratory journal  2012;41(3):548-555.
To compare strategies for COPD case-finding using data from the Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease (BOLD) study.
Population-based samples of adults aged ≥40 years (n= 9390) from 14 countries completed a questionnaire and spirometry. We compared the screening efficiency of different staged algorithms that used questionnaire data and/or PEF to identify persons at risk for COPD and hence needing confirmatory spirometry. Separate algorithms were fitted for moderate/severe COPD and for severe COPD. We estimated the cost of each algorithm in 1000 people.
For moderate/severe COPD, use of questionnaire data alone permitted high sensitivity (97%), but required confirmatory spirometry on 80% of participants. Use of PEF only required confirmatory spirometry in only 19-22% of subjects with 83-84% sensitivity. For severe COPD, use of PEF achieved 91-93% sensitivity, requiring confirmatory spirometry in <9% of participants. Cost analysis suggested that a staged screening algorithm using only PEF initially, followed by confirmatory spirometry as needed, was the most cost-effective case finding strategy.
Our results support the use of PEF as a simple, cost-effective initial screening tool for conducting COPD case-finding in adults ≥40 years. These findings should be validated in real-world settings such as the primary care environment.
PMCID: PMC3529919  PMID: 22743668
Adult; Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; Peak Expiratory Flow; questionnaire; screening; epidemiology
11.  Cost-effectiveness of roflumilast as an add-on treatment to long-acting bronchodilators in the treatment of COPD associated with chronic bronchitis in the United Kingdom 
To estimate the cost-effectiveness of adding a selective phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitor, roflumilast, to a long-acting bronchodilator therapy (LABA) for the treatment of patients with severe-to-very severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) associated with chronic bronchitis with a history of frequent exacerbations from the UK payer perspective.
A Markov model was developed to predict the lifetime cost and outcomes [exacerbations rates, life expectancy, and quality-adjusted life years (QALY)] in patients treated with roflumilast, which showed a reduction in the exacerbation rates and lung function improvement in a pooled analysis from two clinical trials, M2-124 and M2-125. Sensitivity analyses were conducted to explore the impact of uncertainties on the cost-effectiveness.
The addition of roflumilast to concomitant LABA reduced the number of exacerbations from 15.6 to 12.7 [2.9 (95 % CI 0.88–4.92) exacerbations avoided] and increased QALYs from 5.45 to 5.61 [0.16 (95 % CI 0.02–0.31) QALYs gained], at an incremental cost of £3,197 (95 % CI £2,135–£4,253). Cost in LABA alone and LABA + roflumilast were £16,161 and £19,358 respectively. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratios in the base case were £19,505 (95 % CI £364–£38,646) per quality-adjusted life-year gained and 18,219 (95 % CI £12,697–£49,135) per life-year gained. Sensitivity analyses suggest that among the main determinants of cost-effectiveness are the reduction of exacerbations and the case fatality rate due to hospital-treated exacerbations. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis suggests that the probability of roflumilast being cost-effective is 82 % at willingness-to-pay £30,000 per QALY.
The addition of roflumilast to LABA in the treatment of patients with severe-to-very severe COPD reduces the rate of exacerbations and can be cost-effective in the UK setting.
PMCID: PMC3889819  PMID: 23392624
COPD; Cost-effectiveness analysis; Chronic-obstructive pulmonary disease; Roflumilast; Exacerbations; C; C6; D; I; I1; I19
12.  Development of a Simple Reliable Radiographic Scoring System to Aid the Diagnosis of Pulmonary Tuberculosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54235.
Chest radiography is sometimes the only method available for investigating patients with possible pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) with negative sputum smears. However, interpretation of chest radiographs in this context lacks specificity for PTB, is subjective and is neither standardized nor reproducible. Efforts to improve the interpretation of chest radiography are warranted.
To develop a scoring system to aid the diagnosis of PTB, using features recorded with the Chest Radiograph Reading and Recording System (CRRS).
Chest radiographs of outpatients with possible PTB, recruited over 3 years at clinics in South Africa were read by two independent readers using the CRRS method. Multivariate analysis was used to identify features significantly associated with culture-positive PTB. These were weighted and used to generate a score.
473 patients were included in the analysis. Large upper lobe opacities, cavities, unilateral pleural effusion and adenopathy were significantly associated with PTB, had high inter-reader reliability, and received 2, 2, 1 and 2 points, respectively in the final score. Using a cut-off of 2, scores below this threshold had a high negative predictive value (91.5%, 95%CI 87.1,94.7), but low positive predictive value (49.4%, 95%CI 42.9,55.9). Among the 382 TB suspects with negative sputum smears, 229 patients had scores <2; the score correctly ruled out active PTB in 214 of these patients (NPV 93.4%; 95%CI 89.4,96.3). The score had a suboptimal negative predictive value in HIV-infected patients (NPV 86.4, 95% CI 75,94).
The proposed scoring system is simple, and reliably ruled out active PTB in smear-negative HIV-uninfected patients, thus potentially reducing the need for further tests in high burden settings. Validation studies are now required.
PMCID: PMC3548832  PMID: 23349835
13.  Task shifting of antiretroviral treatment from doctors to primary-care nurses in South Africa (STRETCH): a pragmatic, parallel, cluster-randomised trial 
Lancet  2012;380(9845):889-898.
Robust evidence of the effectiveness of task shifting of antiretroviral therapy (ART) from doctors to other health workers is scarce. We aimed to assess the effects on mortality, viral suppression, and other health outcomes and quality indicators of the Streamlining Tasks and Roles to Expand Treatment and Care for HIV (STRETCH) programme, which provides educational outreach training of nurses to initiate and represcribe ART, and to decentralise care.
We undertook a pragmatic, parallel, cluster-randomised trial in South Africa between Jan 28, 2008, and June 30, 2010. We randomly assigned 31 primary-care ART clinics to implement the STRETCH programme (intervention group) or to continue with standard care (control group). The ratio of randomisation depended on how many clinics were in each of nine strata. Two cohorts were enrolled: eligible patients in cohort 1 were adults (aged ≥16 years) with CD4 counts of 350 cells per μL or less who were not receiving ART; those in cohort 2 were adults who had already received ART for at least 6 months and were being treated at enrolment. The primary outcome in cohort 1 was time to death (superiority analysis). The primary outcome in cohort 2 was the proportion with undetectable viral loads (<400 copies per mL) 12 months after enrolment (equivalence analysis, prespecified difference <6%). Patients and clinicians could not be masked to group assignment. The interim analysis was blind, but data analysts were not masked after the database was locked for final analysis. Analyses were done by intention to treat. This trial is registered, number ISRCTN46836853.
5390 patients in cohort 1 and 3029 in cohort 2 were in the intervention group, and 3862 in cohort 1 and 3202 in cohort 2 were in the control group. Median follow-up was 16·3 months (IQR 12·2–18·0) in cohort 1 and 18·0 months (18·0–18·0) in cohort 2. In cohort 1, 997 (20%) of 4943 patients analysed in the intervention group and 747 (19%) of 3862 in the control group with known vital status at the end of the trial had died. Time to death did not differ (hazard ratio [HR] 0·94, 95% CI 0·76–1·15). In a preplanned subgroup analysis of patients with baseline CD4 counts of 201–350 cells per μL, mortality was slightly lower in the intervention group than in the control group (0·73, 0·54–1.00; p=0·052), but it did not differ between groups in patients with baseline CD4 of 200 cells per μL or less (0·94, 0·76–1·15; p=0·577). In cohort 2, viral load suppression 12 months after enrolment was equivalent in intervention (2156 [71%] of 3029 patients) and control groups (2230 [70%] of 3202; risk difference 1·1%, 95% CI −2·4 to 4·6).
Expansion of primary-care nurses' roles to include ART initiation and represcription can be done safely, and improve health outcomes and quality of care, but might not reduce time to ART or mortality.
UK Medical Research Council, Development Cooperation Ireland, and Canadian International Development Agency.
PMCID: PMC3442223  PMID: 22901955
14.  Implementing nurse-initiated and managed antiretroviral treatment (NIMART) in South Africa: a qualitative process evaluation of the STRETCH trial 
Task-shifting is promoted widely as a mechanism for expanding antiretroviral treatment (ART) access. However, the evidence for nurse-initiated and managed ART (NIMART) in Africa is limited, and little is known about the key barriers and enablers to implementing NIMART programmes on a large scale. The STRETCH (Streamlining Tasks and Roles to Expand Treatment and Care for HIV) programme was a complex educational and organisational intervention implemented in the Free State Province of South Africa to enable nurses providing primary HIV/AIDS care to expand their roles and include aspects of care and treatment usually provided by physicians. STRETCH used a phased implementation approach and ART treatment guidelines tailored specifically to nurses. The effects of STRETCH on pre-ART mortality, ART provision, and the quality of HIV/ART care were evaluated through a randomised controlled trial. This study was conducted alongside the trial to develop a contextualised understanding of factors affecting the implementation of the programme.
This study was a qualitative process evaluation using in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with patients, health workers, health managers, and other key informants as well as observation in clinics. Research questions focused on perceptions of STRETCH, changes in health provider roles, attitudes and patient relationships, and impact of the implementation context on trial outcomes. Data were analysed collaboratively by the research team using thematic analysis.
NIMART appears to be highly acceptable among nurses, patients, and physicians. Managers and nurses expressed confidence in their ability to deliver ART successfully. This confidence developed slowly and unevenly, through a phased and well-supported approach that guided nurses through training, re-prescription, and initiation. The research also shows that NIMART changes the working and referral relationships between health staff, demands significant training and support, and faces workload and capacity constraints, and logistical and infrastructural challenges.
Large-scale NIMART appears to be feasible and acceptable in the primary level public sector health services in South Africa. Successful implementation requires a comprehensive approach with: an incremental and well supported approach to implementation; clinical guidelines tailored to nurses; and significant health services reorganisation to accommodate the knock-on effects of shifts in practice.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3464669  PMID: 22800379
Antiretroviral treatment; NIMART; South Africa; Primary healthcare; Nurse training; Process evaluation; PALSA PLUS
15.  HIV-1 and Bacterial Pneumonia in the Era of Antiretroviral Therapy 
Community-acquired pneumonia affects approximately 4 million people in the United States, with 40,000 deaths per year. The incidence is increased about 35-fold in HIV-infected individuals, and this rate has decreased since the antiretroviral era has begun. Bacterial pneumonia has decreased from 5 to 20 cases per 100 person-years to less than 1 to 5 cases per 100 person-years in the era of antiretroviral therapy. HIV-1 infection impairs the function of neutrophils in the lung and infects CD4+ cells and alveolar macrophages. Opportunistic infections dramatically increase local HIV replication in the lung cells, especially alveolar macrophages and CD4+ cells. This enhanced replication increases viral mutations and provides opportunities for viral escape from latent reservoirs. Mortality is increased with more comorbidities in this highly susceptible population. Immunization with vaccines is recommended, especially pneumococcal vaccines, although the vaccine itself may stimulate viral replication. Recent studies show that the lower respiratory tract is a microbial reservoir in HIV-infected individuals rather than being a sterile environment, as originally thought. This may provide new opportunities for preventing opportunistic infections in HIV-infected subjects. Bacterial pneumonia presents an ongoing challenge in these high-risk individuals, particularly in studying the functions of the innate and acquired immune response.
PMCID: PMC3132786  PMID: 21653529
bacterial pneumonia; HIV antiretroviral therapy
16.  Global asthma prevalence in adults: findings from the cross-sectional world health survey 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:204.
Asthma is a major cause of disability, health resource utilization and poor quality of life world-wide. We set out to generate estimates of the global burden of asthma in adults, which may inform the development of strategies to address this common disease.
The World Health Survey (WHS) was developed and implemented by the World Health Organization in 2002-2003. A total of 178,215 individuals from 70 countries aged 18 to 45 years responded to questions related to asthma and related symptoms. The prevalence of asthma was based on responses to questions relating to self-reported doctor diagnosed asthma, clinical/treated asthma, and wheezing in the last 12 months.
The global prevalence rates of doctor diagnosed asthma, clinical/treated asthma and wheezing in adults were 4.3%, 4.5%, and 8.6% respectively, and varied by as much as 21-fold amongst the 70 countries. Australia reported the highest rate of doctor diagnosed, clinical/treated asthma, and wheezing (21.0%, 21.5%, and 27.4%). Amongst those with clinical/treated asthma, almost 24% were current smokers, half reported wheezing, and 20% had never been treated for asthma.
This study provides a global estimate of the burden of asthma in adults, and suggests that asthma continues to be a major public health concern worldwide. The high prevalence of smoking remains a major barrier to combating the global burden of asthma. While the highest prevalence rates were observed in resource-rich countries, resource-poor nations were also significantly affected, posing a barrier to development as it stretches further the demands of non-communicable diseases.
PMCID: PMC3353191  PMID: 22429515
17.  Comparison of Quantitative Techniques including Xpert MTB/RIF to Evaluate Mycobacterial Burden 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28815.
Accurate quantification of mycobacterial load is important for the evaluation of patient infectiousness, disease severity and monitoring treatment response in human and in-vitro laboratory models of disease. We hypothesized that newer techniques would perform as well as solid media culture to quantify mycobacterial burden in laboratory specimens.
We compared the turn-around-time, detection-threshold, dynamic range, reproducibility, relative discriminative ability, of 4 mycobacterial load determination techniques: automated liquid culture (BACTEC-MGIT-960), [3H]-uracil incorporation assays, luciferase-reporter construct bioluminescence, and quantitative PCR(Xpert -MTB/RIF) using serial dilutions of Mycobacterium bovis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37RV. Mycobacterial colony-forming-units(CFU) using 7H10-Middlebrook solid media served as the reference standard.
All 4 assays correlated well with the reference standard, however, bioluminescence and uracil assays had a detection threshold ≥1×103 organisms. By contrast, BACTEC-MGIT-960 liquid culture, although only providing results in days, was user-friendly, had the lowest detection threshold (<10 organisms), the greatest discriminative ability (1 vs. 10 organisms; p = 0.02), and the best reproducibility (coefficient of variance of 2% vs. 38% compared to uracil incorporation; p = 0.02). Xpert-MTB/RIF correlated well with mycobacterial load, had a rapid turn-around-time (<2 hours), was user friendly, but had a detection limit of ∼100 organisms.
Choosing a technique to quantify mycobacterial burden for laboratory or clinical research depends on availability of resources and the question being addressed. Automated liquid culture has good discriminative ability and low detection threshold but results are only obtained in days. Xpert MTB/RIF provides rapid quantification of mycobacterial burden, but has a poorer discrimination and detection threshold.
PMCID: PMC3245241  PMID: 22216117
18.  Fluticasone furoate: once-daily evening treatment versus twice-daily treatment in moderate asthma 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):160.
Inhaled corticosteroids are the recommended first-line treatment for asthma but adherence to therapy is suboptimal. The objectives of this study were to compare the efficacy and safety of once-daily (OD) evening and twice-daily (BD) regimens of the novel inhaled corticosteroid fluticasone furoate (FF) in asthma patients.
Patients with moderate asthma (age ≥ 12 years; pre-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) 40-85% predicted; FEV1 reversibility of ≥ 12% and ≥ 200 ml) were randomized to FF or fluticasone propionate (FP) regimens in a double-blind, crossover study. Patients were not permitted to have used any ICS for ≥ 8 weeks prior to enrolment and subsequently received doses of FF or FP 200 μg OD, FF or FP 100 μg BD and matching placebo by inhalation for 28 days each. Primary endpoint was Day 28 evening pre-dose (trough) FEV1; non-inferiority of FF 200 μg OD and FF 100 μg BD was assessed, as was superiority of all active treatment relative to placebo. Adverse events (AEs) and 24-hour urinary cortisol excretion were assessed.
The intent-to-treat population comprised 147 (FF) and 43 (FP) patients. On Day 28, pre-dose FEV1 showed FF 200 μg OD to be non-inferior (pre-defined limit -110 ml) to FF 100 μg BD (mean treatment difference 11 ml; 95% CI: -35 to +56 ml); all FF and FP regimens were significantly superior to placebo (p ≤ 0.02). AEs were similar to placebo; no serious AEs were reported. Urinary cortisol excretion at Day 28 for FF was lower than placebo (ratios: 200 μg OD, 0.75; 100 μg BD, 0.84; p ≤ 0.02).
FF 200 μg OD in the evening is an efficacious and well tolerated treatment for asthma patients and is not inferior to the same total BD dose.
Trial registration; NCT00766090.
PMCID: PMC3282675  PMID: 22188590
Asthma; fluticasone furoate; inhaled corticosteroid; once daily; efficacy; safety
19.  Evaluating a streamlined clinical tool and educational outreach intervention for health care workers in Malawi: the PALM PLUS case study 
Nearly 3 million people in resource-poor countries receive antiretrovirals for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, yet millions more require treatment. Key barriers to treatment scale up are shortages of trained health care workers, and challenges integrating HIV/AIDS care with primary care.
The research
PALM PLUS (Practical Approach to Lung Health and HIV/AIDS in Malawi) is an intervention designed to simplify and integrate existing Malawian national guidelines into a single, simple, user-friendly guideline for mid-level health care workers. Training utilizes a peer-to-peer educational outreach approach. Research is being undertaken to evaluate this intervention to generate evidence that will guide future decision-making for consideration of roll out in Malawi. The research consists of a cluster randomized trial in 30 public health centres in Zomba District that measures the effect of the intervention on staff satisfaction and retention, quality of patient care, and costs through quantitative, qualitative and health economics methods.
Results and outcomes
In the first phase of qualitative inquiry respondents from intervention sites demonstrated in-depth knowledge of PALM PLUS compared to those from control sites. Participants in intervention sites felt that the PALM PLUS tool empowered them to provide better health services to patients. Interim staff retention data shows that there were, on average, 3 to 4 staff departing from the control and intervention sites per month. Additional qualitative, quantitative and economic analyses are planned.
The partnership
Dignitas International and the Knowledge Translation Unit at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute have led the adaptation and development of the PALM PLUS intervention, using experience gained through the implementation of the South African precursor, PALSA PLUS. The Malawian partners, REACH Trust and the Research Unit at the Ministry of Health, have led the qualitative and economic evaluations. Dignitas and Ministry of Health have facilitated interaction with implementers and policy-makers.
Challenges and successes
This initiative is an example of South-South knowledge translation between South Africa and Malawi, mediated by a Canadian academic-NGO hybrid. Our success in developing and rolling out PALM PLUS in Malawi suggests that it is possible to adapt and implement this intervention for use in other resource-limited settings.
PMCID: PMC3247831  PMID: 22166125
20.  Efficacy in asthma of once-daily treatment with fluticasone furoate: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):132.
Fluticasone furoate (FF) is a novel long-acting inhaled corticosteroid (ICS). This double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized study evaluated the efficacy and safety of FF 200 mcg or 400 mcg once daily, either in the morning or in the evening, and FF 200 mcg twice daily (morning and evening), for 8 weeks in patients with persistent asthma.
Asthma patients maintained on ICS for ≥ 3 months with baseline morning forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) 50-80% of predicted normal value and FEV1 reversibility of ≥ 12% and ≥ 200 ml were eligible. The primary endpoint was mean change from baseline FEV1 at week 8 in pre-dose (morning or evening [depending on regimen], pre-rescue bronchodilator) FEV1.
A total of 545 patients received one of five FF treatment groups and 101 patients received placebo (intent-to-treat population). Each of the five FF treatment groups produced a statistically significant improvement in pre-dose FEV1 compared with placebo (p < 0.05). FF 400 mcg once daily in the evening and FF 200 mcg twice daily produced similar placebo-adjusted improvements in evening pre-dose FEV1 at week 8 (240 ml vs. 235 ml). FF 400 mcg once daily in the morning, although effective, resulted in a smaller improvement in morning pre-dose FEV1 than FF 200 mcg twice daily at week 8 (315 ml vs. 202 ml). The incidence of oral candidiasis was low (0-4%) and UC excretion was comparable with placebo for all FF groups.
FF at total daily doses of 200 mcg or 400 mcg was significantly more effective than placebo. FF 400 mcg once daily in the evening had similar efficacy to FF 200 mcg twice daily and all FF regimens had a safety tolerability profile generally similar to placebo. This indicates that inhaled FF is an effective and well tolerated once-daily treatment for mild-to-moderate asthma.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3217852  PMID: 21977941
once-daily; ICS; asthma
21.  Task shifting and integration of HIV care into primary care in South Africa: The development and content of the streamlining tasks and roles to expand treatment and care for HIV (STRETCH) intervention 
Task shifting and the integration of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) care into primary care services have been identified as possible strategies for improving access to antiretroviral treatment (ART). This paper describes the development and content of an intervention involving these two strategies, as part of the Streamlining Tasks and Roles to Expand Treatment and Care for HIV (STRETCH) pragmatic randomised controlled trial.
Methods: Developing the intervention
The intervention was developed following discussions with senior management, clinicians, and clinic staff. These discussions revealed that the establishment of separate antiretroviral treatment services for HIV had resulted in problems in accessing care due to the large number of patients at ART clinics. The intervention developed therefore combined the shifting from doctors to nurses of prescriptions of antiretrovirals (ARVs) for uncomplicated patients and the stepwise integration of HIV care into primary care services.
Results: Components of the intervention
The intervention consisted of regulatory changes, training, and guidelines to support nurse ART prescription, local management teams, an implementation toolkit, and a flexible, phased introduction. Nurse supervisors were equipped to train intervention clinic nurses in ART prescription using outreach education and an integrated primary care guideline. Management teams were set up and a STRETCH coordinator was appointed to oversee the implementation process.
Three important processes were used in developing and implementing this intervention: active participation of clinic staff and local and provincial management, educational outreach to train nurses in intervention sites, and an external facilitator to support all stages of the intervention rollout.
The STRETCH trial is registered with Current Control Trials ISRCTN46836853.
PMCID: PMC3163620  PMID: 21810242
22.  From PALSA PLUS to PALM PLUS: adapting and developing a South African guideline and training intervention to better integrate HIV/AIDS care with primary care in rural health centers in Malawi 
Only about one-third of eligible HIV/AIDS patients receive anti-retroviral treatment (ART). Decentralizing treatment is crucial to wider and more equitable access, but key obstacles are a shortage of trained healthcare workers (HCW) and challenges integrating HIV/AIDS care with other primary care. This report describes the development of a guideline and training program (PALM PLUS) designed to integrate HIV/AIDS care with other primary care in Malawi. PALM PLUS was adapted from PALSA PLUS, developed in South Africa, and targets middle-cadre HCWs (clinical officers, nurses, and medical assistants). We adapted it to align with Malawi's national treatment protocols, more varied healthcare workforce, and weaker health system infrastructure.
The international research team included the developers of the PALSA PLUS program, key Malawi-based team members and personnel from national and district level Ministry of Health (MoH), professional associations, and an international non-governmental organization. The PALSA PLUS guideline was extensively revised based on Malawi national disease-specific guidelines. Advice and input was sought from local clinical experts, including middle-cadre personnel, as well as Malawi MoH personnel and representatives of Malawian professional associations.
An integrated guideline adapted to Malawian protocols for adults with respiratory conditions, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other primary care conditions was developed. The training program was adapted to Malawi's health system and district-level supervision structure. PALM PLUS is currently being piloted in a cluster-randomized trial in health centers in Malawi (ISRCTN47805230).
The PALM PLUS guideline and training intervention targets primary care middle-cadre HCWs with the objective of improving HCW satisfaction and retention, and the quality of patient care. Successful adaptations are feasible, even across health systems as different as those of South Africa and Malawi.
PMCID: PMC3162564  PMID: 21791048
23.  Efficacy and safety of once-daily aclidinium in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):55.
The long-term efficacy and safety of aclidinium bromide, a novel, long-acting muscarinic antagonist, were investigated in patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
In two double-blind, 52-week studies, ACCLAIM/COPD I (n = 843) and II (n = 804), patients were randomised to inhaled aclidinium 200 μg or placebo once-daily. Patients were required to have a post-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1)/forced vital capacity ratio of ≤70% and FEV1 <80% of the predicted value. The primary endpoint was trough FEV1 at 12 and 28 weeks. Secondary endpoints were health status measured by St George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) and time to first moderate or severe COPD exacerbation.
At 12 and 28 weeks, aclidinium improved trough FEV1 versus placebo in ACCLAIM/COPD I (by 61 and 67 mL; both p < 0.001) and ACCLAIM/COPD II (by 63 and 59 mL; both p < 0.001). More patients had a SGRQ improvement ≥4 units at 52 weeks with aclidinium versus placebo in ACCLAIM/COPD I (48.1% versus 39.5%; p = 0.025) and ACCLAIM/COPD II (39.0% versus 32.8%; p = 0.074). The time to first exacerbation was significantly delayed by aclidinium in ACCLAIM/COPD II (hazard ratio [HR] 0.7; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.55 to 0.92; p = 0.01), but not ACCLAIM/COPD I (HR 1.0; 95% CI 0.72 to 1.33; p = 0.9). Adverse events were minor in both studies.
Aclidinium is effective and well tolerated in patients with moderate to severe COPD.
Trial registration NCT00363896 (ACCLAIM/COPD I) and NCT00358436 (ACCLAIM/COPD II).
PMCID: PMC3098801  PMID: 21518460
Aclidinium bromide; anticholinergic; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; long-acting muscarinic antagonist
24.  Lack of paradoxical bronchoconstriction after administration of tiotropium via Respimat® Soft Mist™ Inhaler in COPD 
Bronchoconstriction has been reported in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients after administration of some aqueous inhalation solutions. We investigated the incidence of this event during long-term clinical trials of tiotropium delivered via Respimat® Soft Mist™ Inhaler (SMI). We retrospectively analyzed pooled data from two identical Phase III clinical trials, in which 1990 patients with COPD received 48 weeks’ treatment with once-daily tiotropium (5 or 10 μg) or placebo inhaled via Respimat® SMI. We recorded the incidence of bronchospasm and of a range of respiratory events that could suggest bronchoconstriction during the first 30 minutes after inhalation of study treatment on each of the eight test days. No patients reported bronchospasm. Six patients (0.3%) reported a combination of at least two events suggestive of bronchoconstriction, and 21 (1.1%) reported either rescue medication use or a respiratory adverse event. Asymptomatic falls in forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) of ≥15% were recorded on all test days, with no change in incidence over time, and affected 8.2% of those in the tiotropium groups and 14.5% of those on placebo. In COPD patients receiving long-term treatment with tiotropium 5 or 10 μg via Respimat® SMI, no bronchospasm was recorded, and the number of events possibly indicative of paradoxical bronchoconstriction was very low.
PMCID: PMC3144844  PMID: 21814460
inhalation device; bronchoconstriction; COPD; tiotropium
25.  Outreach education for integration of HIV/AIDS care, antiretroviral treatment, and tuberculosis care in primary care clinics in South Africa: PALSA PLUS pragmatic cluster randomised trial 
Objective To investigate whether PALSA PLUS, an on-site educational outreach programme of non-didactic, case based, iterative clinical education of staff, led by a trainer, can increase access to and comprehensiveness of care for patients with HIV/AIDS.
Design Cluster randomised trial.
Setting Public primary care clinics offering HIV/AIDS care, antiretroviral treatment (ART), tuberculosis care, and ambulatory primary care in Free State province, South Africa.
Participants Fifteen clinics all implementing decentralisation and task shifting were randomised. The clinics cared for 400 000 general primary care patients and 10 136 patients in an HIV/AIDS/ART programme. There were 150 nurses.
Intervention On-site outreach education in eight clinics; no such education in seven (control).
Main outcome measures Provision of co-trimoxazole prophylaxis among patients referred to the HIV/AIDS/ART programme, and detection of cases of tuberculosis among those in the programme. Proportion of patients in the programme enrolled through general primary care consultations.
Results Patients referred to the HIV/AIDS programme through general primary care at intervention clinics were more likely than those at control clinics to receive co-trimoxazole prophylaxis (41%, (2253/5523) v 32% (1340/4210); odds ratio 1.95, 95% confidence interval 1.11 to 3.40), and tuberculosis was more likely to be diagnosed among patients with HIV/AIDS/ART (7% (417/5793) v 6% (245/4343); 1.25, 1.01 to 1.55). Enrolment in the HIV/AIDS and ART programme through HIV testing in general primary care was not significantly increased (53% v 50%; 1.19, 0.51 to 2.77). Secondary outcomes were similar, except for weight gain, which was higher in the intervention group (2.3 kg v 1.9 kg, P<0.001).
Conclusion Though outreach education is an effective and feasible strategy for improving comprehensiveness of care and wellbeing of patients with HIV/AIDS, there is no evidence that it increases access to the ART programme. It is now being widely implemented in South Africa.
Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN 24820584.
PMCID: PMC3080737  PMID: 21511783

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