Purpose: Chronic use of corticosteroids for the treatment of uveitis has been linked with drug-associated toxicity and adverse events (AEs). This study examines the association between corticosteroid dosage and incidence rates of corticosteroid-related AEs. Design: A post hoc analysis of the VISUAL-1 and VISUAL-2 placebo-controlled clinical trials. Participants: The clinical trials consisted of adults with active (VISUAL-1) and inactive (VISUAL-2) noninfectious intermediate, posterior, and panuveitis. Patients were randomized to receive adalimumab or placebo and underwent a protocol-defined mandatory taper to discontinue their oral corticosteroids. Methods: Adverse event data were collected at each visit and included an assessment of the corticosteroid relationship by the investigator. A longitudinal Poisson regression model was estimated controlling for time-dependent corticosteroid dose, age, sex, prior oral corticosteroid dose, prior topical corticosteroid use, and concomitant immunosuppressive drug use. Only patients randomized to placebo were considered. Main Outcome Measures: The primary outcome measure was the frequency of AEs. Results: The incidence rates of corticosteroid-related AEs among placebo patients during the prednisone treatment period in VISUAL-1 was statistically higher than after discontinuation (454.2 per 100 patient-years [PY] vs. 36.1 per 100 PY, incident rate ratio = 12.6, P < 0.001). Incidence rate ratios among VISUAL-2 patients were similarly high (317.5 per 100 PY vs. 41.1 per 100 PY, incident rate ratio = 7.7, P < 0.001). Based on the Poisson multivariate longitudinal Generalized Estimating Equation (GEE) model, each 10 mg increase in prednisone dose is associated with a 1.5- and 2.6-fold increase (P < 0.001 and P < 0.001) in the rate of corticosteroid-related AEs in VISUAL-1 and VISUAL-2, respectively. This implies in turn that a patient with active uveitis taking 60 mg/day of prednisone will experience, on average, an additional 10.1 (95% confidence interval (CI), 6.3-14.5; P < 0.001) corticosteroid-related AEs per year compared with a patient taking 10 mg/day, whereas a patient with inactive uveitis taking 35 mg/day of prednisone will experience, on average, an additional 23.5 (95% CI, 7.6-52.7; P = 0.05) corticosteroid-related AEs per year compared with a patient taking 10 mg/day. Conclusions: Evidence from VISUAL-1 and VISUAL-2 suggests that the incidence rates of corticosteroid-related AEs increase systematically with corticosteroid dose.
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