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Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; pirfenidone; forced vital capacity; efficacy; treatment
Introduction: Pirfenidone has been shown to reduce the decline in forced vital capacity (FVC) compared to placebo in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Previous studies have suggested that patients with a more rapid decline in FVC during the period before starting pirfenidone experience the greatest benefit from treatment. The purpose of this retrospective observational study was to investigate the response to pirfenidone in IPF patients, comparing two groups stratified by the annual rate of decline in FVC % predicted prior to treatment. Methods: Using the rate of decline in FVC % predicted in the 12 months prior to pirfenidone, patients were stratified into slow (<5%) or rapid (≥5%) decliner groups. Comparisons in the lung function response to pirfenidone in these two groups were performed. Results: Pirfenidone resulted in no statistically significant reduction in the median annual rate of decline in FVC or FVC % predicted. In the rapid decliners, pirfenidone significantly reduced the median (IQR) annual rate of decline in FVC % predicted (-8.7 (-14.2 – -7.0) %/yr vs 2.0 (-7.1 – 6.0) %/yr; n=17; p<0.01). In the slow decliners, pirfenidone did not reduce the median (IQR) annual rate of decline in FVC % predicted (-1.3 (-3.2 – 1.3) %/yr vs -5.0 (-8.3 – -0.35) %/yr; n=17; p=0.028). Conclusions: We demonstrate the greater net effect of pirfenidone in IPF patients declining rapidly. We suggest that using an annual rate of decline in FVC of <5% and ≥5% may be useful in counselling patients with regard to pirfenidone treatment.