Comparison of two hyaluronan drugs and placebo in patients with knee osteoarthritis. A controlled, randomized, double-blind, parallel-design multicentre study

J Karlsson, L S Sjögren, L S Lohmander
Rheumatology 2002, 41 (11): 1240-8

OBJECTIVE: To compare the efficacy and safety of intra-articular injections of two different hyaluronan preparations and placebo in patients with knee osteoarthritis.

METHODS: In a randomized, patient- and observer-blind, placebo-controlled and multicentre trial with parallel groups, 210 patients, aged 60 yr or above, with knee osteoarthritis were included in a per protocol analysis. The patients were treated with three injections, once weekly, of either native high-molecular-weight hyaluronan (Artzal((R))) or cross-linked hyaluronan (Synvisc((R))) or with placebo and were followed for 52 weeks. The primary efficacy measures were weight-bearing pain during study weeks 0-26 and the duration of clinical benefit measured with Kaplan-Meier survival analysis for weeks 0-52. The secondary outcome measures were resting and maximum pain, Lequesne index, WOMAC (Western Ontario and McMaster University Osteoarthritis Index) and SF-36 (Medical Outcomes Study Short Form Health Survey) scores.

RESULTS: The intra-articular injections produced a significant reduction in weight-bearing pain, resting pain, maximum pain and Lequesne and WOMAC scores after 26 weeks. There were no significant differences in outcome between any of the three study groups during the first 26 weeks. In direct comparison against placebo for weeks 0-52, neither hyaluronan treatment (Artzal or Synvisc) showed a significantly longer duration of clinical benefit than placebo. However, when data for the two hyaluronan-treated groups were pooled, treatment with hyaluronan had a significantly longer duration of benefit compared with placebo (P = 0.047).

CONCLUSION: Patients with knee osteoarthritis who were treated by injection into the knee of either of two hyaluronan preparations or placebo showed clinical improvement during the first 26 weeks of treatment, though neither hyaluronan preparation gave a longer duration of clinical benefit than placebo. However, when data for the two hyaluronan treatments were pooled, there was a significantly longer duration of clinical benefit for hyaluronan treatment than for placebo.

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