Alessia Verduri 1 , Fabrizio Luppi 1 , Roberto D’Amico 2 , Sara Balduzzi 2 , Roberto Vicini 2 , Anna Liverani 3 , Valentina Ruggieri 1 , Mario Plebani 3 , Maria Pia Foschino Barbaro 4 , Antonio Spanevello 5 , Giorgio Walter Canonica 6 , Alberto Papi 7 , Leonardo Michele Fabbri 1 , * , Bianca Beghè 1 , on behalf of the FARM58J2XH Study Group
11 March 2015
The duration of antibiotic treatment of exacerbations of COPD (ECOPD) is controversial. Serum procalcitonin (PCT) is a biomarker of bacterial infection used to identify the cause of ECOPD.
We investigated whether a PCT-guided plan would allow a shorter duration of antibiotic treatment in patients with severe ECOPD. For this multicenter, randomized, non-inferiority trial, we enrolled 184 patients hospitalized with ECOPD from 18 hospitals in Italy. Patients were assigned to receive antibiotics for 10 days (standard group) or for either 3 or 10 days (PCT group). The primary outcome was the rate of ECOPD at 6 months. Having planned to recruit 400 patients, we randomized only 183: 93 in the PCT group and 90 in the standard group. Thus, the completed study was underpowered. The ECOPD rate at 6 months between PCT-guided and standard antibiotic treatment was not significant (% difference, 4.04; 90% confidence interval [CI], −7.23 to 15.31), but the CI included the non-inferiority margin of 15. In the PCT-guided group, about 50% of patients were treated for 3 days, and there was no difference in primary or secondary outcomes compared to patients treated for 10 days.
Although the primary and secondary clinical outcomes were no different for patients treated for 3 or 10 days in the PCT group, the conclusion that antibiotics can be safely stopped after 3 days in patients with low serum PCT cannot be substantiated statistically. Thus, the results of this study are inconclusive regarding the noninferiority of the PCT-guided plan compared to the standard antibiotic treatment. The study was funded by Agenzia Italiana del Farmaco (AIFA-FARM58J2XH). Clinical trial registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT01125098).