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Rationale, design, and baseline characteristics of a randomized, placebo-controlled cardiovascular outcome trial of empagliflozin (EMPA-REG OUTCOME™)

Bernard Zinman12*, Silvio E Inzucchi3, John M Lachin4, Christoph Wanner5, Roberto Ferrari6, David Fitchett78, Erich Bluhmki9, Stefan Hantel9, Joan Kempthorne-Rawson10, Jennifer Newman10, Odd Erik Johansen11, Hans-Juergen Woerle12 and Uli C Broedl12

Author Affiliations

1 Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Canada

2 Division of Endocrinology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

3 Section of Endocrinology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA

4 The Biostatistics Center, The George Washington University, Rockville, MD, USA

5 Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, Würzburg University Clinic, Würzburg, Germany

6 Section of Cardiology, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy

7 St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Canada

8 Division of Cardiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

9 Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG, Biberach, Germany

10 Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc, Ridgefield, CT, USA

11 Boehringer Ingelheim Norway KS, Asker, Norway

12 Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG, Ingelheim, Germany

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Cardiovascular Diabetology 2014, 13:102  doi:10.1186/1475-2840-13-102

Published: 19 June 2014



Evidence concerning the importance of glucose lowering in the prevention of cardiovascular (CV) outcomes remains controversial. Given the multi-faceted pathogenesis of atherosclerosis in diabetes, it is likely that any intervention to mitigate this risk must address CV risk factors beyond glycemia alone. The SGLT-2 inhibitor empagliflozin improves glucose control, body weight and blood pressure when used as monotherapy or add-on to other antihyperglycemic agents in patients with type 2 diabetes. The aim of the ongoing EMPA-REG OUTCOME™ trial is to determine the long-term CV safety of empagliflozin, as well as investigating potential benefits on macro-/microvascular outcomes.


Patients who were drug-naïve (HbA1c ≥7.0% and ≤9.0%), or on background glucose-lowering therapy (HbA1c ≥7.0% and ≤10.0%), and were at high risk of CV events, were randomized (1:1:1) and treated with empagliflozin 10 mg, empagliflozin 25 mg, or placebo (double blind, double dummy) superimposed upon the standard of care. The primary outcome is time to first occurrence of CV death, non-fatal myocardial infarction, or non-fatal stroke. CV events will be prospectively adjudicated by an independent Clinical Events Committee. The trial will continue until ≥691 confirmed primary outcome events have occurred, providing a power of 90% to yield an upper limit of the adjusted 95% CI for a hazard ratio of <1.3 with a one-sided α of 0.025, assuming equal risks between placebo and empagliflozin (both doses pooled). Hierarchical testing for superiority will follow for the primary outcome and key secondary outcomes (time to first occurrence of CV death, non-fatal myocardial infarction, non-fatal stroke or hospitalization for unstable angina pectoris) where non-inferiority is achieved.


Between Sept 2010 and April 2013, 592 clinical sites randomized and treated 7034 patients (41% from Europe, 20% from North America, and 19% from Asia). At baseline, the mean age was 63 ± 9 years, BMI 30.6 ± 5.3 kg/m2, HbA1c 8.1 ± 0.8%, and eGFR 74 ± 21 ml/min/1.73 m2. The study is expected to report in 2015.


EMPA-REG OUTCOME™ will determine the CV safety of empagliflozin in a cohort of patients with type 2 diabetes and high CV risk, with the potential to show cardioprotection.

Trial registration NCT01131676

Blood pressure; Body weight; Empagliflozin; Glycemic control; Macrovascular; Microvascular; SGLT2 inhibitor; Type 2 diabetes