Pivotal studies have demonstrated that pharmacotherapy with pegvisomant (Somavert) is a highly effective treatment for acromegaly. Since clinical experience with the drug was very limited, the Pegvisomant Observational Study was launched in Germany immediately with the drug becoming commercially available to patients early in 2004. Its purpose was to record safety and efficacy data on as many patients as possible.
As of 12th August 2008 a total of 371 patients (185 males, 186 females) had been included in the study. They were on pegvisomant therapy for an average of 118 weeks. Median and mean doses of pegvisomant were 15 and 16.4 mg/day respectively. Treatment efficacy was monitored by IGF1 levels and the patients symptoms were evaluated by completion of a questionnaire (patient-assessed acromegaly symptom questionnaire). Safety data included liver function tests, fasting glucose, HbA1c measurements, and tumor size monitoring by repeated magnetic resonance imaging.
Normalization of IGF1 ranged from 55.7% of the 273 patients assessed after 6 months to 71.3% of 202 patients assessed after 24 months of treatment. It was 70.7% after 36 months (133 patients), 64.8% at 48 months (71 patients), and 58.4% after 60 months (24 patients). In 39 patients (10.9%) treatment was discontinued due to serious adverse events or adverse events with 25 (6.7%) of these patients having a potential causal relationship with the pegvisomant treatment. Liver function tests became abnormal in 20 patients and another three patients were recorded to have hepatobiliary disorders. Tumor size increase was reported in 20 patients, but only confirmed in nine patients by careful revision of all available images. Local injection site reactions were observed in 12 patients.
In conclusion, in this large group of pegvisomant-treated patients, long-term data for up to 5 years of treatment are now available. In 71.3% of patients with previously not sufficiently treatable acromegaly, IGF1 levels were normalized by pegvisomant therapy. Elevated transaminases usually normalized after discontinuation but in half of the affected patients also despite continuation of treatment without dose alteration. Tumor progression was a rare event. It did not exceed the expected rate in patients with acromegaly not treated with pegvisomant. As from this presently largest database of acromegalic patients treated with pegvisomant, long-term results are encouraging. The German data are now merged into the global ACROSTUDY and will constitute a major portion of the international ACROSTUDY project as a continuing global web-based observational study.