Pasireotide in Cushing’s Disease

N Engl J Med 2012; 366:2134-2135 May 31, 2012


To the Editor:

In their study, Colao et al. (March 8 issue)1 examined the clinical efficacy and safety of two different doses of subcutaneous pasireotide in patients with newly diagnosed, persistent, or recurrent Cushing’s disease. Since alternative therapies (including bilateral adrenalectomy) are available for patients with persistent or recurrent Cushing’s disease, it would be important to consider all options before embarking on what might turn out to be many years of medication.

Giovanni Targher, M.D.
University of Verona, Verona, Italy 

No potential conflict of interest relevant to this letter was reported.

1 References

To the Editor:

The phase 3 trial by Colao et al. showed the efficacy of 12 months of treatment with subcutaneous pasireotide (600 or 900 μg twice daily) in patients with Cushing’s disease. We now report results after 7 years of treatment with pasireotide administered as part of a phase 2 study.1 In July 2004, a 43-year-old woman with Cushing’s disease, whose 24-hour urinary free cortisol level was 9.2 times the upper limit of normal, began 15 days of treatment with subcutaneous pasireotide (600 μg twice daily) that resulted in normalization of these levels (Figure 1AFIGURE 1Effects of Pasireotide Treatment on 24-Hour Urinary Free Cortisol Levels and on Adrenocorticotropin Hormone Levels during Desmopressin-Stimulation Testing.). When treatment was halted for 35 days, urinary free cortisol levels increased. In September 2004, she resumed treatment with pasireotide (600 μg twice daily), which led to clinical improvement (i.e., a weight loss of 13 kg, regular menstrual cycles, and reduced hirsutism). Hyperglycemia ensued (glycated hemoglobin, 5.7 to 7.7%), and weakness necessitated a temporary reduction in the dose to 450 μg twice daily (November 2004 to October 2005). Since November 2005, when the patient resumed taking the 600-μg dose twice daily, urinary free cortisol levels have remained in the normal range at most monthly assessments. Basal and desmopressin-stimulated adrenocorticotropin levels also decreased as a result of treatment with pasireotide (Figure 1B). To date, she has not had any serious adverse events. This case illustrates the long-term efficacy of pasireotide without the development of resistance to the drug’s effects.

Rossella Libé, M.D.
INSERM Unité 1016, Paris, France

Lionel Groussin, M.D., Ph.D.
Université Paris Descartes, Paris, France

Jérôme Bertherat, M.D., Ph.D.
Hôpital Cochin, Paris, France 

Drs. Libé and Bertherat report being investigators for studies of pasireotide in Cushing’s disease funded by Novartis. No other potential conflict of interest relevant to this letter was reported.

1 References

Author/Editor Response

We concur with Targher’s implication that the advantages and disadvantages of all management options should be considered for each patient before a specific treatment is advised.

Libé and colleagues present a very interesting case of a patient with Cushing’s disease in the extension of a phase 2 study of pasireotide. This patient was treated with pasireotide for a much longer duration than the 1 year reported in the phase 3 study.

Annamaria Colao, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy

Mario Maldonado, M.D.
Novartis Pharma, Basel, Switzerland

Since publication of their article, the authors report no further potential conflict of interest.



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