Concerns have been raised that treatment of COPD with inhaled corticosteroids may increase pneumonia risk. Responding to a request from the European Medicines Agency Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee, a pooled analysis of interventional studies compared pneumonia risk with inhaled budesonide-containing versus non-budesonide-containing treatments and the impact of other clinically relevant factors.
AstraZeneca-sponsored, parallel-group, double-blind, randomized controlled trials meeting the following criteria were included: >8 weeks' duration; ≥60 patients with COPD; inhaled budesonide treatment arm (budesonide/formoterol or budesonide); and non-budesonide-containing comparator arm (formoterol or placebo). Primary and secondary outcomes were time to first pneumonia treatment-emergent serious adverse event (TESAE) and treatment-emergent adverse event (TEAEs), respectively, analyzed using Cox regression models stratified by study.
Eleven studies were identified; 10,570 out of 10,574 randomized patients receiving ≥1 dose of study treatment were included for safety analysis (budesonide-containing, n=5,750; non-budesonide-containing, n=4,820). Maximum exposure to treatment was 48 months. The overall pooled hazard ratio (HR), comparing budesonide versus non-budesonide-containing treatments, was 1.15 for pneumonia TESAEs (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.83, 1.57) and 1.13 for pneumonia TEAEs (95% CI: 0.94, 1.36). The annual incidence of pneumonia TESAEs was 1.9% and 1.5% for budesonide-containing and non-budesonide-containing treatments, respectively. Comparing budesonide/formoterol with non-budesonide-containing treatment, the HRs for pneumonia TESAEs and TEAEs were 1.00 (95% CI: 0.69, 1.44) and 1.21 (95% CI: 0.93, 1.57), respectively. For budesonide versus placebo, HRs were 1.57 for pneumonia TESAEs (95% CI: 0.90, 2.74) and 1.07 for pneumonia TEAEs (95% CI: 0.83, 1.38).
This pooled analysis found no statistically significant increase in overall risk for pneumonia TESAEs or TEAEs with budesonide-containing versus non-budesonide-containing treatments. However, a small increase in risk with budesonide-containing treatment cannot be ruled out; there is considerable heterogeneity in study designs and patient characteristics, particularly in the early budesonide studies, and each study contributes <40 pneumonia TESAEs.