Real world effects of COPD medications: a cohort study with validation against RCT results.

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Real-world data provide the potential for generating evidence on drug treatment effects in groups excluded from trials, but rigorous, validated methodology for doing so is lacking. We investigated whether non-interventional methods applied to real-world data could reproduce results from the landmark TORCH COPD trial.We performed a historical cohort study (2000-2017) of COPD drug treatment effects in the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD). Two control groups were selected from CPRD by applying TORCH inclusion/exclusion criteria and 1:1 matching to TORCH participants: control group 1- people with COPD not prescribed fluticasone propionate-salmeterol (FP-SAL), control group 2- people with COPD prescribed salmeterol (SAL). FP-SAL exposed groups were then selected from CPRD by propensity-score matching to each control group. Outcomes studied were COPD exacerbations, death from any cause and pneumonia.2652 FP-SAL exposed people were propensity-score matched to 2652 FP-SAL unexposed people while 991 FP-SAL exposed people were propensity-score matched to 991 SAL exposed people. Exacerbation rate ratio was comparable to TORCH for FP-SAL versus SAL (0.85, 95% CI 0.74-0.97 versus 0.88, 0.81-0.95) but not for FP-SAL versus no FP-SAL (1.30, 1.19-1.42 versus 0.75, 0.69-0.81). Active comparator results were also consistent with TORCH for mortality (hazard ratio 0.93, 0.65-1.32 versus 0.93, 0.77-1.13) and pneumonia (risk ratio 1.39, 1.04-1.87 versus 1.47, 1.25-1.73).We obtained very similar results to the TORCH trial for active comparator analyses, but were unable to reproduce placebo-controlled results. Application of these validated methods for active comparator analyses to groups excluded from RCTs provides a practical way for contributing to the evidence base and supporting COPD treatment decisions.

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