Efficacy and safety of brolucizumab versus aflibercept in eyes with early persistent retinal fluid: 96-week outcomes from the HAWK and HARRIER studies

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Objective: Post-hoc analysis to compare the outcomes of brolucizumab 6 mg vs. aflibercept 2 mg in neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) patients with early persistent retinal fluid in HAWK and HARRIER.

Methods: After 3 monthly loading doses, brolucizumab-treated eyes (N = 730) received injections every 12 weeks (q12w) or q8w if disease activity was detected. Aflibercept-treated eyes (N = 729) received fixed q8w dosing. Early persistent fluid was defined as the presence of subretinal fluid and/or intraretinal fluid up to Week 12.

Results: A lower proportion of brolucizumab patients had early persistent retinal fluid compared with aflibercept (11.2% (n = 82) vs. 19.2% (n = 140)). In these patients, 34.1% of the brolucizumab-treated group achieved a ≥ 15 ETDRS letter gain in best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) from baseline at Week 96 compared with 20.7% of the aflibercept-treated group. Brolucizumab achieved numerically better BCVA outcomes (Week 96: brolucizumab, +6.4 letters; aflibercept, +3.7 letters) and significantly greater central subfield thickness reductions versus aflibercept from baseline through Week 96 (Week 96: -202 µm vs. -145 µm; p = 0.0206). Brolucizumab demonstrated an overall favourable benefit/risk profile in this patient cohort. In their unmasked, post-hoc review, the Safety Review Committee identified two cases of retinal vasculitis and no cases of retinal vascular occlusion in the brolucizumab arm; no cases of retinal vasculitis or retinal vascular occlusion were identified in the aflibercept arm.

Conclusion: In this analysis, anatomical and visual outcomes were better with brolucizumab compared with aflibercept. Brolucizumab may therefore achieve greater disease control than aflibercept in nAMD patients with early persistent retinal fluid.