Establishing cardiovascular safety of new therapies for type 2 diabetes is important. Safety data are available for the subcutaneous form of the glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist semaglutide but are needed for oral semaglutide.
We assessed cardiovascular outcomes of once-daily oral semaglutide in an event-driven, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving patients at high cardiovascular risk (age of ≥50 years with established cardiovascular or chronic kidney disease, or age of ≥60 years with cardiovascular risk factors only). The primary outcome in a time-to-event analysis was the first occurrence of a major adverse cardiovascular event (death from cardiovascular causes, nonfatal myocardial infarction, or nonfatal stroke). The trial was designed to rule out 80% excess cardiovascular risk as compared with placebo (noninferiority margin of 1.8 for the upper boundary of the 95% confidence interval for the hazard ratio for the primary outcome).
A total of 3183 patients were randomly assigned to receive oral semaglutide or placebo. The mean age of the patients was 66 years; 2695 patients (84.7%) were 50 years of age or older and had cardiovascular or chronic kidney disease. The median time in the trial was 15.9 months. Major adverse cardiovascular events occurred in 61 of 1591 patients (3.8%) in the oral semaglutide group and 76 of 1592 (4.8%) in the placebo group (hazard ratio, 0.79; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.57 to 1.11; P<0.001 for noninferiority). Results for components of the primary outcome were as follows: death from cardiovascular causes, 15 of 1591 patients (0.9%) in the oral semaglutide group and 30 of 1592 (1.9%) in the placebo group (hazard ratio, 0.49; 95% CI, 0.27 to 0.92); nonfatal myocardial infarction, 37 of 1591 patients (2.3%) and 31 of 1592 (1.9%), respectively (hazard ratio, 1.18; 95% CI, 0.73 to 1.90); and nonfatal stroke, 12 of 1591 patients (0.8%) and 16 of 1592 (1.0%), respectively (hazard ratio, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.35 to 1.57). Death from any cause occurred in 23 of 1591 patients (1.4%) in the oral semaglutide group and 45 of 1592 (2.8%) in the placebo group (hazard ratio, 0.51; 95% CI, 0.31 to 0.84). Gastrointestinal adverse events leading to discontinuation of oral semaglutide or placebo were more common with oral semaglutide.
In this trial involving patients with type 2 diabetes, the cardiovascular risk profile of oral semaglutide was not inferior to that of placebo. (Funded by Novo Nordisk; PIONEER 6 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02692716.)