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1.  Rasburicase in the management of tumor lysis: an evidence-based review of its place in therapy 
Core Evidence  2015;10:23-38.
Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS) is a potentially life-threatening complication of cancer therapy characterized by two or more of the following laboratory abnormalities: hyperuricemia, hyperkalemia, hypocalcemia, and hyperphosphatemia, with resultant end-organ damage, eg, renal failure, seizures, or cardiac arrhythmias. High-risk patients include those with highly proliferative cancers and/or large tumor burdens, particularly in the setting of highly effective chemotherapy, among other risk factors. Before 2002, antihyperuricemic drug therapy was limited to allopurinol, a xanthine oxidase inhibitor. Rasburicase, a recombinant urate oxidase, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for children in 2002 and adults in 2009, ushering in a new era in TLS therapy. We attempted to critically appraise the available evidence supporting the perceived benefits of rasburicase in the management of TLS. A Medline search yielded 98 relevant articles, including 26 retrospective and 22 prospective studies of rasburicase for the treatment of TLS, which were then evaluated to determine the best available evidence for the effectiveness of rasburicase in terms of disease-oriented, patient-oriented, and economic outcomes. Rasburicase is now a standard of care for patients at high risk of TLS despite continuing debate on the correlation between its profound and rapid lowering of plasma uric acid levels with hard patient outcomes, eg, need for renal replacement therapy and mortality. Rasburicase is dramatically effective in lowering plasma uric acid levels. The mortality and cost-effectiveness benefits of this expensive drug remain to be conclusively proven, and well designed, randomized controlled trials are needed to answer these fundamentally important questions.
PMCID: PMC4298251  PMID: 25610345
rasburicase; hyperuricemia; uric acid; urate oxidase; tumor lysis syndrome; evidence
2.  Dulaglutide: an evidence-based review of its potential in the treatment of type 2 diabetes 
Core Evidence  2015;10:11-21.
As the prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is anticipated to continue to rise worldwide, so too are the treatment options also continuing to expand. Current guidelines recommend individualized treatment plans which allow for provider choice and diversity of pharmacotherapeutic regimens. The glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1 RA) class is rapidly expanding, with dulaglutide (Trulicity™) as a once-weekly agent recently approved.
This article examines the evidence currently available on the efficacy and safety of dulaglutide for use in T2DM.
Evidence review
Dulaglutide has been shown to have similar efficacy and safety to other newer GLP-1 RAs, and better glycemic control than placebo. It lowers glycated hemoglobin (A1c), fasting and postprandial glucose levels, and promotes weight loss when used as first-, second-, or third-line therapy. It has also been shown to improve β-cell function and provide cardiovascular benefits, such as lower blood pressure and improved lipid levels. Dulaglutide also has a low risk for hypoglycemia and a similar adverse effect profile to other GLP-1 RAs in the class, with transient gastrointestinal problems and potential risk for pancreatitis.
Place in therapy
While long-term data on safety and efficacy are forthcoming, dulaglutide is positioned to be placed at the same level as other GLP-1 RAs in the class: as second-line therapy in addition to diet and exercise in those patients who cannot achieve glycemic control on monotherapy metformin. It may also be useful as first-line therapy instead of metformin.
Dulaglutide is a once-weekly GLP-1 RA approved for the treatment of T2DM that has shown similar efficacy to other agents in this class.
PMCID: PMC4295897  PMID: 25657615
GLP-1 RA; glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist; incretin mimetic; type 2 diabetes mellitus therapy
3.  Sipuleucel-T in the treatment of prostate cancer: an evidence-based review of its place in therapy 
Core Evidence  2014;10:1-10.
Metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer is the lethal form of cancer of the prostate. Five new agents that prolong survival in this group have emerged in the past 5 years, and sipuleucel-T is among them. Sipuleucel-T is the only immunotherapy shown to improve survival in prostate cancer. It is currently indicated in asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic patients, as it has never shown a direct cancer effect. This paper describes the process of creating the sipuleucel-T product from the manufacturing and patient aspects. It discusses the four placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trials (RCTs) of sipuleucel-T, focusing on survival and adverse events. There are three RCTs in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, all of which showed improved overall survival without meaningful decreases in symptoms, tumor volumes, or prostate-specific antigen levels. One RCT in castration-sensitive, biochemically relapsed prostate cancer attempted to find a decrease in biochemical failure, but that endpoint was not reached. Adverse events in all four of these studies centered around cytokine release. This paper also reviews a Phase II study of sipuleucel-T given neoadjuvantly that speaks to its mechanism of action. Additionally, there is a registry study of sipuleucel-T that has been used to evaluate immunological parameters of the product in men ≥80 years of age and men who had previously been treated with palliative radiation. Attempts to find early markers of response to sipuleucel-T are described. Further ongoing studies that explore the efficacy of sipuleucel-T in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors and second-generation hormonal therapies that are summarized. Finally, the only published economic analysis of sipuleucel-T is discussed.
PMCID: PMC4279604  PMID: 25565923
prostate cancer; sipuleucel-T; efficacy; economic analysis
4.  Luliconazole for the treatment of fungal infections: an evidence-based review 
Core Evidence  2014;9:113-124.
Luliconazole is an imidazole antifungal agent with a unique structure, as the imidazole moiety is incorporated into the ketene dithioacetate structure. Luliconazole is the R-enantiomer, and has more potent antifungal activity than lanoconazole, which is a racemic mixture. In this review, we summarize the in vitro data, animal studies, and clinical trial data relating to the use of topical luliconazole. Preclinical studies have demonstrated excellent activity against dermatophytes. Further, in vitro/in vivo studies have also shown favorable activity against Candida albicans, Malassezia spp., and Aspergillus fumigatus. Luliconazole, although belonging to the azole group, has strong fungicidal activity against Trichophyton spp., similar to that of terbinafine. The strong clinical antifungal activity of luliconazole is possibly attributable to a combination of strong in vitro antifungal activity and favorable pharmacokinetic properties in the skin. Clinical trials have demonstrated its superiority over placebo in dermatophytosis, and its antifungal activity to be at par or even better than that of terbinafine. Application of luliconazole 1% cream once daily is effective even in short-term use (one week for tinea corporis/cruris and 2 weeks for tinea pedis). A Phase I/IIa study has shown excellent local tolerability and a lack of systemic side effects with use of topical luliconazole solution for onychomycosis. Further studies to evaluate its efficacy in onychomycosis are underway. Luliconazole 1% cream was approved in Japan in 2005 for the treatment of tinea infections. It has recently been approved by US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of interdigital tinea pedis, tinea cruris, and tinea corporis. Topical luliconazole has a favorable safety profile, with only mild application site reactions reported occasionally.
PMCID: PMC4181444  PMID: 25285056
luliconazole; NND-502; fungal infections; dermatophytes; onychomycosis; clinical trials; review; fungal infections
5.  Colistimethate sodium for the treatment of chronic pulmonary infection in cystic fibrosis: an evidence-based review of its place in therapy 
Core Evidence  2014;9:99-112.
Chronic bacterial respiratory-tract infections are a major driving force in the pathogenesis of cystic fibrosis (CF) lung disease and promote chronic lung-function decline, destruction, and progression to respiratory failure at a premature age. Gram-negative bacteria colonizing the airways in CF are a major problem in CF therapy due to their tendency to develop a high degree of resistance to antibiotic agents over time. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the dominating bacterial strain infecting the CF lung from early childhood on, and multiresistant strains frequently develop after years of therapy. Colistin has been used for treating pulmonary bacterial infections in CF for decades due to its very good Gram-negative activity. However, drawbacks include concerns regarding toxicity when being applied systemically, and the lack of approval for application by inhalation in the USA for many years. Other antibiotic substances for systemic use are available with good to excellent Gram-negative and anti-Pseudomonas activity, while there are only three substances approved for inhalation use in the treatment of chronic pulmonary infection with proven benefit in CF. The emergence of multiresistant strains leaving nearly no antibiotic substance as a treatment option, the limited number of antibiotics with high activity against P. aeruginosa, the concerns about increasing the risk of antibiotic resistance by continuous antibiotic therapy, the development of new drug formulations and drug-delivery devices, and, finally, the differing treatment strategies used in CF centers call for defining the place of this “old” drug, colistimethate, in today’s CF therapy. This article reviews the available evidence to reflect on the place of colistimethate sodium in the therapy of chronic pulmonary infection in CF.
PMCID: PMC4178503  PMID: 25278817
Pseudomonas aeruginosa; treatment; multiresistant strains; Gram-negative bacteria; colistin
6.  Brodalumab: an evidence-based review of its potential in the treatment of moderate-to-severe psoriasis 
Core Evidence  2014;9:89-97.
Advances in knowledge regarding the pathogenesis of psoriasis have allowed the development of a new class of agents known as biologic drugs. Data confirm that T helper (Th)17 and interleukin (IL)-17 signaling has a crucial role in the pathogenesis of the disease. High levels of IL-17 and Th17-related cytokines have been reported in psoriasis, leading to the suggestion of agents targeting IL-17 as a potential therapeutic strategy in psoriasis. Brodalumab is a human monoclonal antibody that targets IL-17 receptor A, blocking the effects of IL-17A, IL-17F, and IL-17E. Data from Phase I and Phase II clinical trials indicate that brodalumab has a favorable safety and tolerability profile, with strong clinical activity, suggesting that it is a potential tool for use in the treatment of moderate-to-severe psoriasis.
PMCID: PMC4112723  PMID: 25093016
interleukin-17; interleukin-17 receptor; monoclonal antibody; T helper 17 pathway
7.  Regorafenib: an evidence-based review of its potential in patients with advanced liver cancer 
Core Evidence  2014;9:81-87.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the second-most common cause of cancer-related death in the world. In spite of HCC surveillance with repeated imaging, about 50% of patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage and are not amenable to curative treatment options. Sorafenib, a multikinase inhibitor, remains the standard of care for advanced HCC. Over the last 5 years, several other medications have been tested in Phase III trials. However, they have not shown any added benefit over sorafenib. Regorafenib, another multikinase inhibitor, has demonstrated inhibition of a broader range of kinases, along with higher inhibition potential in preclinical models. After its safety and pharmacological properties was studied in Phase I trials, a Phase II study evaluating the role of Regorafenib in patients with advanced HCC who progressed on sorafenib therapy demonstrated efficacy and a manageable safety profile. A Phase III trial is ongoing, and its result will help us better evaluate the role of Regorafenib in patients with advanced HCC.
PMCID: PMC4109634  PMID: 25114628
Regorafenib; hepatocellular carcinoma; HCC; advanced HCC; multikinase inhibitors
8.  Clinical utility of treprostinil in the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension: an evidence-based review 
Core Evidence  2014;9:71-80.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) remains a progressive disease without a cure, despite the development of several treatment options over the past several decades. Its management strategy consists of the endothelin receptor antagonists (ambrisentan, bosentan, macitentan), phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors (sildenafil, tadalafil, vardenafil), and prostacyclin analogs (epoprostenol, treprostinil, iloprost). Treprostinil, a stable prostacyclin analog, displays vasodilatory effects in the pulmonary vasculature, as well as antiplatelet aggregation properties. Clinical practice guidelines recommend oral endothelin receptor antagonist or phosphodiesterase inhibitor therapy in mild to moderate PAH. Epoprostenol is specifically suggested as first-line therapy in moderate to severe PAH patients (ie, World Health Organization/New York Heart Association functional class III–IV). However, treprostinil may be an alternative option in these severe PAH patients. The longer half-life and stability at room temperature with treprostinil may be associated with lower risk of pulmonary hemodynamic worsening as a result of abrupt infusion discontinuation and less frequent drug preparation. These characteristics make treprostinil an attractive alternative to continuous infusion of epoprostenol, due to convenience and patient safety. The purpose of this review is to evaluate the safety and efficacy of continuous infusion of treprostinil as well as the inhaled and oral routes of administration in PAH.
PMCID: PMC4073912  PMID: 25018685
treprostinil; prostacyclin; pulmonary arterial hypertension
10.  Development of cabozantinib for the treatment of prostate cancer 
Core Evidence  2014;9:61-67.
Cabozantinib (XL184) is a multitargeted receptor tyrosine kinase with predominantly MET and vascular endothelial growth factor inhibition properties. It is currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of progressive metastatic medullary thyroid cancer. The agent has a convenient once-daily oral dosing schedule and has demonstrated encouraging activity in metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). A Phase I/II trial demonstrated responses in soft tissue, visceral disease, and bone metastases in CRPC. An objective response rate of 5%, a stable disease rate of 75%, and a median progression-free survival of 6 months was observed. As compared with the 140 mg daily dose used in thyroid cancer, a lower dose of 60 mg daily is currently being utilized in prostate cancer studies due to the fact that toxicity could be reduced without compromising efficacy. Randomized trials are ongoing in comparison with prednisone or with mitoxantrone and prednisone in pretreated metastatic CRPC. Cabozantinib has demonstrated a unique mechanism of action and preliminary efficacy in the crowded therapeutic field of prostate cancer. Since multiple therapies have recently demonstrated overall survival benefit in metastatic CRPC, cabozantinib will likely face some challenges in clinical application. At present, in this rapidly evolving field, it is unclear what proportion of patients with prostate cancer will be eligible to receive this therapy. The cost of cabozantinib is likely to be another deterrent, especially if it remains more expensive than other oral therapies, such as abiraterone and enzalutamide. Defining the role of MET overexpression and RET mutations as biomarkers in prostate cancer may help to guide patient selection, and enrich and enhance the future applications of this targeted novel agent.
PMCID: PMC4003147  PMID: 24790591
XL184; castrate-resistant; vascular endothelial growth factor; MET; tyrosine kinase; metastasis
11.  Ocriplasmin for symptomatic vitreomacular adhesion: an evidence-based review of its potential 
Core Evidence  2014;9:51-59.
Vitreomacular traction is a multicategory entity that may cause substantial visual loss due to the formation of a macular hole or traction-induced tissue distortion. The advent of optical coherent tomography (OCT) has demonstrated the anatomic features of persistent vitreomacular attachment (VMA) more definitively, including in many asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic patients. The indications for intervention are unclear, since it is not possible to predict which eyes might be likely to develop progressive visual loss. This has been especially important since for many years, the only treatment option involved surgical intervention (vitrectomy) to release the persistent VMA. Recently, a pharmacolytic agent, ocriplasmin, has become available after many years of development and investigation, and may offer a feasible alternative to surgery, or even a risk/benefit ratio sufficiently favorable to offer intervention at an earlier stage of VMA. Several studies, including a large, prospective clinical trial, have established the foundation of its rationale and efficacy, providing the basis of its approval. The role for ocriplasmin in clinical practice is in the process of being determined. This paper summarizes current knowledge and status of investigations regarding ocriplasmin-induced pharmacologic vitreolysis, and offers some evidence-based considerations for its use.
PMCID: PMC3968080  PMID: 24711777
macular edema; microplasmin; pharmacologic vitreolysis; posterior vitreous detachment
13.  Mavrilimumab: an evidence based review of its potential in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis 
Core Evidence  2014;9:41-48.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) management has greatly improved with the development of biologic disease modifying antirheumatic drugs, but a proportion of patients do not improve despite the biologic drugs currently available. We need new biologic agents with novel mechanisms of action for the treatment of refractory patients. Recent evidence has shown that granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) is involved in the pathogenesis of RA. GM-CSF can exacerbate RA and elevated levels of this cytokine have been observed in synovial fluid from RA patients. Antagonism of GM-CSF can strikingly reduce established disease in mouse models of arthritis. Mavrilimumab, a human monoclonal antibody to GM-CSF receptor α, is a competitive antagonist of GM-CSF signaling. Phase I and II studies have shown good clinical response with a good safety profile in patients with mild to moderate RA, suggesting encouraging effects of mavrilimumab for the treatment of RA. This paper reviews the preclinical and clinical data evaluating the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of mavrilimumab in the treatment of RA.
PMCID: PMC3958547  PMID: 24648832
rheumatoid arthritis; GM-CSF; mavrilimumab
14.  Micafungin: an evidence-based review of its place in therapy 
Core Evidence  2014;9:27-39.
Invasive fungal infections have increased throughout the world. Many of these infections occur in patients with multiple comorbidities who are receiving medications with the potential for interactions with antifungal therapy that could lead to renal and hepatic dysfunction. The second marketed echinocandin, micafungin, was approved in 2005 for the treatment of esophageal candidiasis and prophylaxis of invasive Candida infections in patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. The indication for use was later expanded to include candidemia, acute disseminated candidiasis, Candida abscesses, and peritonitis. Like other echinocandins it is fungicidal against Candida species, including those that are polyene- and azole-resistant and fungistatic against Aspergillus species. Its formulation is by the intravenous route only and it is dosed once daily without a loading dose as 85% of the steady state concentration is achieved after three daily doses. It has a favorable tolerability profile with no significant drug interactions and does not need adjustment for renal or hepatic insufficiency.
PMCID: PMC3940642  PMID: 24596542
echinocandin; micafungin; Candida; Aspergillus; prophylaxis
15.  Ceftazidime–avibactam: an evidence-based review of its pharmacology and potential use in the treatment of Gram-negative bacterial infections 
Core Evidence  2014;9:13-25.
Avibactam (NXL104, AVE1330A) is a semi-synthetic, non-β-lactam, β-lactamase inhibitor that is active against Ambler class A, class C, and some class D serine β-lactamases. In this review, we summarize the in vitro data, pharmacology, mechanisms of action and resistance, and clinical trial data relating to the use of this agent combined with ceftazidime for the treatment of Gram-negative bacterial infections. The addition of avibactam to ceftazidime improves its in vitro activity against Enterobacteriaceae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Avibactam does not improve the activity of ceftazidime against Acinetobacter spp., Burkholderia spp., or most anaerobic Gram-negative rods. Pharmacodynamic data indicate that ceftazidime—avibactam is bactericidal at concentrations achievable in human serum. Animal studies demonstrate that ceftazidime–avibactam is effective in ceftazidime-resistant Gram-negative septicemia, meningitis, pyelonephritis, and pneumonia. Limited clinical trials published to date have reported that ceftazidime–avibactam is as effective as therapy with a carbapenem in complicated urinary tract infection and complicated intra-abdominal infection (combined with metronidazole) including infection caused by cephalosporin-resistant Gram-negative isolates. Safety and tolerability of ceftazidime–avibactam in clinical trials has been excellent, with few serious drug-related adverse events reported. Given the abundant clinical experience with ceftazidime and the significant improvement that avibactam provides in its activity against contemporary β-lactamase-producing Gram-negative pathogens, it is likely this new combination agent will play a role in the empiric treatment of complicated urinary tract infections (monotherapy) and complicated intra-abdominal infections (in combination with metronidazole) caused or suspected to be caused by antimicrobial-resistant pathogens (eg, extended spectrum beta-lactamase-, AmpC-, or Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae and multidrug-resistant P. aeruginosa). Potential future uses also include hospital-acquired pneumonia (in combination with antistaphylococcal and antipneumococcal agents) or treatment of skin and soft tissue infections caused by antimicrobial-resistant Gram-negative pathogens (eg, diabetic foot infections), but further clinical trials are required.
PMCID: PMC3908787  PMID: 24493994
β-lactamase; microbiology; pharmacokinetics; NXL-104; clinical trials; review
16.  Targeted therapy in triple-negative metastatic breast cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
Core Evidence  2014;9:1-11.
To perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials that compared the efficacy of targeted therapy to conventional chemotherapy (CT) in patients with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).
Several databases were searched, including Medline, Embase, LILACS, and CENTRAL. The primary end point was progression-free survival (PFS). We performed a meta-analysis of the published data. The results are expressed as hazard ratio (HR) or risk ratio, with their corresponding 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs).
The final analysis included twelve trials comprising 2,054 patients with TNBC, which compared conventional CT alone against CT combined with targeted therapy (bevacizumab [Bev], sorafenib [Sor], cetuximab, lapatinib, and iniparib). PFS was superior in previously untreated patients with TNBC who received Bev plus CT compared to CT alone (fixed effect, HR 0.62, 95% CI 0.51–0.75; P<0.00001). Also, PFS was higher in one study that tested Bev plus CT combination in previously treated patients (HR 0.49, 95% CI 0.33–0.74; P=0.0006). Sor plus CT was also tested as first-line and second-line treatments. The pooled data of PFS favored the combination CT plus Sor (fixed effect, HR 0.69, 95% CI 0.49–0.98; P=0.04). Comparisons of iniparib plus CT also had a better PFS than CT alone (fixed effect, HR 0.75, 95% CI 0.62–0.90; P=0.002).
Targeted therapy, when associated with conventional CT, demonstrated gains in the PFS of patients with TNBC.
PMCID: PMC3891489  PMID: 24476748
triple-negative; chemotherapy; breast cancer; systematic review
17.  Lapatinib plus chemotherapy or endocrine therapy (CET) versus CET alone in the treatment of HER-2-overexpressing locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer: systematic review and meta-analysis 
Core Evidence  2013;8:69-78.
This paper reports a systematic review and meta-analysis of all randomized controlled trials comparing the efficacy of lapatinib plus chemotherapy or endocrine therapy (CET) versus CET alone in human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-overexpressing (HER-2+) locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer.
Several databases were searched, including MEDLINE, EMBASE, LILACS, and CENTRAL. The primary endpoints were progression-free survival and overall survival. The side effects of each treatment were analyzed. The data extracted from the studies were combined by using the hazard ratio or risk ratio with their corresponding 95% confidence interval (CI).
A total of 113 references were identified and screened. The final analysis included four trials comprising 1,073 patients with HER-2+. The overall response rate was higher in patients who received the combination of CET plus lapatinib (risk ratio 0.78; 95% CI 0.71–0.85; P < 0.00001) but with significant heterogeneity (χ2 = 15.61, df = 3; P = 0.001; I2 = 81%). This result remained favorable to the use of lapatinib when a random-effects model analysis was performed (risk ratio 0.76; 95% CI 0.62–0.94; P = 0.01). Progression-free survival was also higher in patients who received CET plus lapatinib (hazard ratio 0.57; 95% CI 0.49–0.66; P < 0.00001) with no heterogeneity detected on this analysis (χ2 = 3.05; df = 3; P = 0.38; I2 = 1%). Overall survival was significantly longer in patients who received CET plus lapatinib (hazard ratio 0.80; 95% CI 0.69–0.92; P = 0.002) without heterogeneity on this analysis (χ2 = 1.26; df = 3; P = 0.74; I2 = 0%). Regarding adverse events and severe toxicities (grade ≥3), the group receiving CET plus lapatinib had higher rates of neutropenia (risk ratio 2.08; 95% CI 1.64–2.62; P < 0.00001), diarrhea (risk ratio 4.82; 95% CI 3.14–7.41; P < 0.00001), and rash (risk ratio 8.03; 95% CI 2.46–26.23; P = 0.0006).
The combination of CET plus lapatinib increased the overall response rate, progression-free survival, and overall survival in patients with HER-2+ locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3793631  PMID: 24115917
chemotherapy; lapatinib; breast cancer; meta-analysis
18.  Sugammadex as a reversal agent for neuromuscular block: an evidence-based review 
Core Evidence  2013;8:57-67.
Sugammadex is the first clinical representative of a new class of drugs called selective relaxant binding agents. It has revolutionized the way anesthesiologists think about drug reversal. Sugammadex selectively binds rocuronium or vecuronium, thereby reversing their neuromuscular blocking action. Due to its 1:1 binding of rocuronium or vecuronium, it is able to reverse any depth of neuromuscular block. So far, it has been approved for use in adult patients and for pediatric patients over 2 years. Since its approval in Europe, Japan, and Australia, further insight on its use in special patient populations and specific diseases have become available. Due to its pharmacodynamic profile, sugammadex, in combination with rocuronium, may have the potential to displace succinylcholine as the “gold standard” muscle relaxant for rapid sequence induction. The use of rocuronium or vecuronium, with the potential of reverse of their action with sugammadex, seems to be safe in patients with impaired neuromuscular transmission, ie, neuromuscular diseases, including myasthenia gravis. Data from long-term use of sugammadex is not yet available. Evidence suggesting an economic advantage of using sugammadex and justifying its relatively high cost for an anesthesia-related drug, is missing.
PMCID: PMC3789633  PMID: 24098155
reversal agent; cyclodextrin; PORC; SRBAs
19.  Lixivaptan – an evidence-based review of its clinical potential in the treatment of hyponatremia 
Core Evidence  2013;8:47-56.
Hyponatremia is the most common electrolyte abnormality seen in clinical practice. Most cases of euvolemic or hypervolemic hyponatremia involve arginine vasopressin (AVP). AVP leads to a concentrated urine and negative free water clearance. Given this primary role of AVP, antagonizing its effect through blockade of its receptor in the distal tubule is an attractive therapeutic target. Lixivaptan is a newer, non-peptide, vasopressin type 2 receptor antagonist. Recent studies have demonstrated efficacy. This review summarizes the clinical pharmacology and data for this new agent.
PMCID: PMC3712664  PMID: 23874242
vasopressin; hyponatremia; heart failure; lixivaptan; therapy; outcomes
20.  Ibrutinib: an evidence-based review of its potential in the treatment of advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia 
Core Evidence  2013;8:37-45.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a heterogeneous disease with a variable course, and remains an incurable disease. Frequent relapses and eventual resistance to fludarabine characterize symptomatic CLL and portends a dismal prognosis for patients. Growing evidence has shown that signaling pathways such as the B cell receptor and NFkB are implicated in the survival and proliferation of the CLL cells which are ultimately associated with persistence of the disease. The Bruton’s tyrosine kinase pathway regulates downstream activation of the B cell receptor and has emerged as an attractive target. Ibrutinib inhibits the Bruton’s tyrosine kinase pathway, and consequently induces apoptosis of B cells. Phase I and II studies have shown impressive response rates with an excellent safety profile in patients with refractory/relapsed CLL and elderly treatment-naïve CLL patients. This paper reviews the preclinical and clinical data for ibrutinib when used in the treatment of CLL. Recent studies showing the benefit of combination therapy using ibrutinib, monoclonal antibodies, and chemoimmunotherapy are also discussed.
PMCID: PMC3662532  PMID: 23717217
ibrutinib; B-cell receptor; chronic lymphocytic leukemia; Bruton’s tyrosine kinase
21.  Enzalutamide: an evidence-based review of its use in the treatment of prostate cancer 
Core Evidence  2013;8:27-35.
Enzalutamide is an oral androgen receptor (AR) signaling inhibitor that was specifically engineered to overcome castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) harboring AR amplification or overexpression. Enzalutamide has demonstrated significant activity in men with metastatic CRPC.
To update the evidence and provide an overview of the available data on enzalutamide.
Evidence review
Peer reviewed articles published and listed in Medline Search were reviewed. In addition, relevant ASCO and ESMO abstracts were searched. The activity of enzalutamide is mediated by potently antagonizing the full-length AR, impairing translocation of the AR from the cytoplasm into the nucleus, and inhibiting the transcriptional activity of the AR by modulating the interaction of the AR with androgen-response elements in gene promoter regions. Enzalutamide has a favorable safety profile and the most common adverse events include fatigue, hot flashes and headache; 1% of patients experienced seizure.
Place in Therapy
The AFFIRM phase III study evaluated the clinical utility of treatment with enzalutamide in men with docetaxel-refractory metastatic CRPC. Enzalutamide improved overall survival compared to placebo, with a median overall survival of 18.4 months versus 13.6 months respectively.
Enzalutamide has demonstrated impressive efficacy in men with metastatic CRPC, moving swiftly from a phase I/II study to two pivotal phase III trials testing this agent in both chemotherapy-pretreated as well as chemotherapy-naïve CRPC patients. Ongoing studies are aiming to explore the utility of enzalutamide in earlier stages of the disease, and to investigate the optimal sequencing and combination of enzalutamide with other standard and novel therapies for prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC3622394  PMID: 23589709
castration-resistant prostate cancer; enzalutamide; MDV3100; antiandrogen; androgen receptor
22.  An evidence-based review of obatoclax mesylate in the treatment of hematological malignancies 
Core Evidence  2013;8:15-26.
Obatoclax mesylate is an intravenously-administered drug under investigation in Phase I and II clinical trials as a novel anticancer therapeutic for hematological malignancies and solid tumors. Obatoclax was developed as a pan-inhibitor of antiapoptotic members of the B cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia/lymphoma 2 (BCL-2) family of proteins, which control the intrinsic or mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis. Resistance to apoptosis through dysregulation of BCL-2 family members is commonly observed in hematological malignancies, and can be linked to therapeutic resistance and poor clinical outcomes. By inhibiting pro-survival BCL-2 family proteins, including MCL-1, obatoclax is proposed to (1) trigger cell death as a single agent, and (2) potentiate the anticancer effects of other therapeutics. Preclinical investigations have supported these proposals and have provided evidence suggestive of a promising therapeutic index for this drug. Phase I trials of obatoclax mesylate in leukemia and lymphoma have defined well-tolerated regimens and have identified transient neurotoxicity as the most common adverse effect of this drug. In these studies, a limited number of objective responses were observed, along with hematological improvement in a larger proportion of treated patients. Published Phase II evaluations in lymphoma and myelofibrosis, however, have not reported robust single-agent activity. Emerging evidence from ongoing preclinical and clinical investigations suggests that the full potential of obatoclax mesylate as a novel anticancer agent may be realized (1) in rational combination treatments, and (2) when guided by molecular predictors of therapeutic response. By understanding the molecular underpinnings of obatoclax response, along with optimal therapeutic regimens and indications, the potential of obatoclax mesylate for the treatment of hematological malignancies may be further clarified.
PMCID: PMC3601645  PMID: 23515850
obatoclax; leukemia; lymphoma; myelofibrosis; BCL-2; BH3 mimetic
23.  Hypofractionated external-beam radiation therapy (HEBRT) versus conventional external-beam radiation (CEBRT) in patients with localized prostate cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
Core Evidence  2013;8:1-13.
The purpose of this work was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of all randomized controlled trials comparing the efficacy and side effect profile of hypofractionated versus conventional external-beam radiation therapy for prostate cancer.
Several databases were searched, including Medline, EmBase, LiLACS, and Central. The endpoints were freedom from biochemical failure and side effects. We performed a meta-analysis of the published data. The results are expressed as the hazard ratio (HR) or risk ratio (RR), with the corresponding 95% confidence interval (CI).
The final analysis included nine trials comprising 2702 patients. Freedom from biochemical failure was reported in only three studies and was similar in patients who received hypofractionated or conventional radiotherapy (fixed effect, HR 1.03, 95% CI 0.88–1.20; P = 0.75), with heterogeneity [χ2 = 15.32, df = 2 (P = 0.0005); I2 = 87%]. The incidence of acute adverse gastrointestinal events was higher in the hypofractionated group (fixed effect, RR 2.02, 95% CI 1.45–2.81; P < 0.0001). We also found moderate heterogeneity on this analysis [χ2 = 7.47, df = 5 (P = 0.19); I2 = 33%]. Acute genitourinary toxicity was similar among the groups (fixed effect, RR 1.19, 95% CI 0.95–1.49; P = 0.13), with moderate heterogeneity [χ2 = 5.83, df = 4 (P = 0.21); I2 = 31%]. The incidence of all late adverse events was the same in both groups (fixed effect, gastrointestinal toxicity, RR 1.17, 95% CI 0.79–1.72, P = 0.44; and acute genitourinary toxicity, RR 1.16, 95% CI 0.80–1.68, P = 0.44).
Hypofractionated radiotherapy in localized prostate cancer was not superior to conventional radiotherapy and showed higher acute gastrointestinal toxicity in this meta-analysis. Because the number of published studies is still small, future assessments should be conducted to clarify better the true role of hypofractionated radiotherapy in patients with prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC3596128  PMID: 23526383
hypofractionated; radiotherapy; prostate cancer; systematic review; acute radiation effects
24.  An evidence-based review of linezolid for the treatment of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA): place in therapy 
Core Evidence  2012;7:131-143.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), including community-associated and hospital-associated strains, is a major cause of human morbidity and mortality. Treatment options have become limited due to the emergence of MRSA strains with decreased sensitivity to vancomycin, which has long been the first-line therapy for serious infections. This has prompted the search for novel antibiotics that are efficacious against MRSA. Linezolid, an oxazolidinone class of antibiotic, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000 for treatment of MRSA infections. Since then, there have been a multitude of clinical trials and research studies evaluating the effectiveness of linezolid against serious infections, including pneumonia (both community- and hospital-acquired), skin and soft-tissue infections such as diabetic foot ulcers, endocarditis, osteomyelitis, prosthetic devices, and others. The primary aim of this review is to provide an up-to-date evaluation of the clinical evidence for using linezolid to treat MRSA infections, with a focus on recently published studies, including those on nosocomial pneumonia. Other objectives are to analyze the cost-effectiveness of linezolid compared to other agents, and to review the pharmokinetics and pharmacodynamics of linezolid, emphasizing the most current concepts.
PMCID: PMC3526863  PMID: 23271985
linezolid; MRSA; clinical trials; pneumonia; skin infections
25.  Polifeprosan 20, 3.85% carmustine slow-release wafer in malignant glioma: evidence for role in era of standard adjuvant temozolomide 
Core Evidence  2012;7:115-130.
The Polifeprosan 20 with carmustine (BCNU, bis-chloroethylnitrosourea, Gliadel®) polymer implant wafer is a biodegradable compound containing 3.85% carmustine which slowly degrades to release carmustine and protects it from exposure to water with resultant hydrolysis until the time of release. The carmustine implant wafer was demonstrated to improve survival in blinded placebo-controlled trials in selected patients with newly diagnosed or recurrent malignant glioma, with little increased risk of adverse events. Based on these trials and other supporting data, US and European regulatory authorities granted approval for its use in recurrent and newly diagnosed malignant glioma, and it remains the only approved local treatment. The preclinical and clinical data suggest that it is optimally utilized primarily in the proportion of patients who may have total or near total removal of gross tumor. The aim of this work was to review the evidence for the use of carmustine implants in the management of malignant astrocytoma (World Health Organization grades III and IV), including newly diagnosed and recurrent disease, especially in the setting of a standard of care that has changed since the randomized trials were completed. Therapy has evolved such that patients now generally receive temozolomide chemotherapy during and after radiotherapy treatment. For patients undergoing repeat resection for malignant glioma, a randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled trial demonstrated a median survival for 110 patients who received carmustine polymers of 31 weeks compared with 23 weeks for 122 patients who only received placebo polymers. The benefit achieved statistical significance only on analysis adjusting for prognostic factors rather than for the randomized groups as a whole (hazard ratio = 0.67, P = 0.006). A blinded, placebo-controlled trial has also been performed for carmustine implant placement in newly diagnosed patients prior to standard radiotherapy. Median survival was improved from 11.6 to 13.9 months (P = 0.03), with a 29% reduction in the risk of death. When patients with glioblastoma multiforme alone were analyzed, the median survival improved from 11.4 to 13.5 months, but this improvement was not statistically significant. When a Cox’s proportional hazard model was utilized to account for other potential prognostic factors, there was a significant 31% reduction in the risk of death (P = 0.04) in this subgroup. Data from other small reports support these results and confirm that the incidence of adverse events does not appear to be increased meaningfully. Given the poor prognosis without possibility of cure, these benefits from a treatment with a favorable safety profile were considered meaningful. There is randomized evidence to support the use of carmustine wafers placed during resection of recurrent disease. Therefore, although there is limited specific evidence, this treatment is likely to be efficacious in an environment when nearly all patients receive temozolomide as part of initial management. Given that half of the patients in the randomized trial assessing the value of carmustine implants in recurrent disease had received prior chemotherapy, it is likely that this remains a valuable treatment at the time of repeat resection, even after temozolomide. There are data from multiple reports to support safety. Although there is randomized evidence to support the use of this therapy in newly diagnosed patients who will receive radiotherapy alone, it is now standard to administer both adjuvant temozolomide and radiotherapy. There are survival outcome reports for small cohorts of patients receiving temozolomide with radiotherapy, but this information is not sufficient to support firm recommendations. Based on the rationale and evidence of safety, this approach appears to be a reasonable option as more information is acquired. Available data support the safety of using carmustine wafers in this circumstance, although special attention to surgical guidelines for implanting the wafers is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3484478  PMID: 23118709
carmustine; Polifeprosan 20; malignant glioma

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