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Safety and tolerability of canakinumab, an IL-1β inhibitor, in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients: a pooled analysis of three randomised double-blind studies

Campbell Howard1*, Adele Noe2, Andrej Skerjanec2, Björn Holzhauer2, Margaret Wernsing1, Monica Ligueros-Saylan1 and Tom Thuren1

Author Affiliations

1 Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, USEH 100-214, One Health Plaza, East Hanover, NJ 07936-1080, USA

2 Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland

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Cardiovascular Diabetology 2014, 13:94  doi:10.1186/1475-2840-13-94

Published: 17 May 2014



We aimed to assess the safety and tolerability of different doses of canakinumab versus placebo in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).


Data were pooled from three studies in 1026 T2DM patients with different routes of administration, treatment regimens and follow-up duration. Canakinumab groups were categorised as low (0.03 mg/kg i.v. once; N = 20), intermediate (0.1 and 0.3 mg/kg i.v. once, 5 and 15 mg s.c. monthly; N = 247), medium (1.5 mg/kg i.v. once, 50 mg s.c. monthly and 150 mg s.c. once; N = 268), and high doses (10 mg/kg i.v. once and 150 mg s.c. monthly; N = 137) and compared with placebo (N = 354). Incidences of adverse events (AEs), serious AEs (SAEs), discontinuations due to AEs, deaths, AEs of special interest related to interleukin-1β inhibition and T2DM disease, and laboratory abnormalities related to haematology and biochemistry parameters were reported. Safety was also analysed by age (<65, ≥65) and gender.


Average exposure across all groups was ≈ 6 months (maximum ~17 months). No dose response in AEs was observed but a trend towards more patients having at least one AE across canakinumab groups relative to placebo (P = 0.0152) was observed. SAEs were few and the incidence rate for most canakinumab groups was lower than that of placebo group except for the high-dose group (0.94% versus 0.58% per month in placebo). A total of five patients discontinued treatment due to AEs across treatment groups. No death was reported in any of the three studies. A small, non-significant increase in the incidence rate of infection AEs was observed on canakinumab groups relative to placebo. Canakinumab was associated with mostly mild decreases in WBC, neutrophils and platelet counts. Additionally, mild increases in SGPT, SGOT and bilirubin were reported. Overall, despite small differences, no clinically relevant findings were observed with respect to laboratory values and vital signs.


This pooled analysis demonstrated that canakinumab was safe and well tolerated over a treatment period up to 1.4 years at the four pooled doses evaluated, in agreement with safety findings reported in the individual studies.

Interleukin (IL)-1β inhibitor; Canakinumab; Safety; Type 2 diabetes mellitus