The objective was to assess the long-term safety profile of dual-release hydrocortisone (DR-HC) in patients with adrenal insufficiency (AI).
Randomised, open-label, crossover trial of DR-HC or thrice-daily hydrocortisone for 3 months each (stage 1) followed by two consecutive, prospective, open-label studies of DR-HC for 6 months (stage 2) and 18 months (stage 3) at five university clinics in Sweden.
Sixty-four adults with primary AI started stage 1, and an additional 16 entered stage 3. Patients received DR-HC 20–40 mg once daily and hydrocortisone 20–40 mg divided into three daily doses (stage 1 only). Main outcome measures were adverse events (AEs) and intercurrent illness (self-reported hydrocortisone use during illness).
In stage 1, patients had a median 1.5 (range, 1–9) intercurrent illness events with DR-HC and 1.0 (1–8) with thrice-daily hydrocortisone. AEs during stage 1 were not related to the cortisol exposure-time profile. The percentage of patients with one or more AEs during stage 1 (73.4% with DR-HC; 65.6% with thrice-daily hydrocortisone) decreased during stage 2, when all patients received DR-HC (51% in the first 3 months; 54% in the second 3 months). In stages 1–3 combined, 19 patients experienced 27 serious AEs, equating to 18.6 serious AEs/100 patient-years of DR-HC exposure.
This long-term prospective trial is the first to document the safety of DR-HC in patients with primary AI and demonstrates that such treatment is well tolerated during 24 consecutive months of therapy.