Efficacy and safety of dolutegravir plus emtricitabine versus standard ART for the maintenance of HIV-1 suppression: 48-week results of the factorial, randomized, non-inferiority SIMPL’HIV trial

by Delphine Sculier, Gilles Wandeler, Sabine Yerly, Annalisa Marinosci, Marcel Stoeckle, Enos Bernasconi, Dominique L. Braun, Pietro Vernazza, Matthias Cavassini, Marta Buzzi, Karin J. Metzner, Laurent A. Decosterd, Huldrych F. Günthard, Patrick Schmid, Andreas Limacher, Matthias Egger, Alexandra Calmy, and the Swiss HIV Cohort Study (SHCS)


Dolutegravir (DTG)–based dual therapy is becoming a new paradigm for both the initiation and maintenance of HIV treatment. The SIMPL’HIV study investigated the outcomes of virologically suppressed patients on standard combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) switching to DTG + emtricitabine (FTC). We present the 48-week efficacy and safety data on DTG + FTC versus cART.

Methods and findings

SIMPL’HIV was a multicenter, open-label, non-inferiority randomized trial with a factorial design among treatment-experienced people with HIV in Switzerland. Participants were enrolled between 12 May 2017 and 30 May 2018. Patients virologically suppressed for at least 24 weeks on standard cART were randomized 1:1 to switching to DTG + FTC or to continuing cART, and 1:1 to simplified patient-centered monitoring versus standard monitoring. The primary endpoint was the proportion of patients virologically suppressed with 3; median age was 48 years; 17% of participants were female. DTG + FTC was non-inferior to cART. The proportion of patients with viral suppression (p = 0.81). Using the FDA snapshot algorithm, 84/93 (90.3%) participants in the DTG + FTC arm had an HIV-1 RNA viral load of p = 0.791). The overall proportion of patients with adverse events and discontinuations did not differ by randomization arm. The proportion of patients with serious adverse events was higher in the cART arm (16%) compared to the DTG + FTC arm (6.5%) (p = 0.041), but none was considered to be related to the study medication. Quality of life improved more between baseline and week 48 in the DTG + FTC compared to the cART arm (adjusted difference +2.6; 95% CI +0.4 to +4.7). The study’s main limitations included a rather small proportion of women included, the open label design, and its short duration.

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In this study, DTG + FTC as maintenance therapy was non-inferior to cART in terms of efficacy, with a similar safety profile and a greater improvement in quality of life, thus expanding the offer of 2-drug simplification options among virologically suppressed individuals.

Trial registration

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03160105.

Paper source
Plos Journal

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