Devereux G, Cotton S, Nath M, et al. Bisoprolol in Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease at High Risk of Exacerbation: The BICS Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2024 May 19. doi: 10.1001/jama.2024.8771. (Original study)

IMPORTANCE: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Observational studies report that ß-blocker use may be associated with reduced risk of COPD exacerbations. However, a recent trial reported that metoprolol did not reduce COPD exacerbations and increased COPD exacerbations requiring hospital admission.

OBJECTIVE: To test whether bisoprolol decreased COPD exacerbations in people with COPD at high risk of exacerbations.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: The Bisoprolol in COPD Study (BICS) was a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial conducted in 76 UK sites (45 primary care clinics and 31 secondary clinics). Patients with COPD who had at least moderate airflow obstruction on spirometry (ratio of forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration [FEV1] to forced vital capacity <0.7; FEV1 <80% predicted) and at least 2 COPD exacerbations treated with oral corticosteroids, antibiotics, or both in the prior 12 months were enrolled from October 17, 2018, to May 31, 2022. Follow-up concluded on April 18, 2023.

INTERVENTIONS: Patients were randomly assigned to bisoprolol (n = 261) or placebo (n = 258). Bisoprolol was started at 1.25 mg orally daily and was titrated as tolerated during 4 sessions to a maximum dose of 5 mg/d, using a standardized protocol.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The primary clinical outcome was the number of patient-reported COPD exacerbations treated with oral corticosteroids, antibiotics, or both during the 1-year treatment period. Safety outcomes included serious adverse events and adverse reactions.

RESULTS: Although the trial planned to enroll 1574 patients, recruitment was suspended from March 16, 2020, to July 31, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two patients in each group were excluded postrandomization. Among the 515 patients (mean [SD] age, 68 [7.9] years; 274 men [53%]; mean FEV1, 50.1%), primary outcome data were available for 514 patients (99.8%) and 371 (72.0%) continued taking the study drug. The primary outcome of patient-reported COPD exacerbations treated with oral corticosteroids, antibiotics, or both was 526 in the bisoprolol group, with a mean exacerbation rate of 2.03/y, vs 513 exacerbations in the placebo group, with a mean exacerbation rate of 2.01/y. The adjusted incidence rate ratio was 0.97 (95% CI, 0.84-1.13; P = .72). Serious adverse events occurred in 37 of 255 patients in the bisoprolol group (14.5%) vs 36 of 251 in the placebo group (14.3%; relative risk, 1.01; 95% CI, 0.62-1.66; P = .96).

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Among people with COPD at high risk of exacerbation, treatment with bisoprolol did not reduce the number of self-reported COPD exacerbations requiring treatment with oral corticosteroids, antibiotics, or both.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: isrctn.org Identifier: ISRCTN10497306.

Discipline Area Score
Internal Medicine 6 / 7
Respirology/Pulmonology 5 / 7
Family Medicine (FM)/General Practice (GP) 4 / 7
General Internal Medicine-Primary Care(US) 4 / 7
Comments from MORE raters

Internal Medicine rater

Bisoprolol is an important beta blocker that is widely used. The neutral effects on the course of COPD are what I would have expected.

Respirology/Pulmonology rater

This trial of bisoprolol in COPD patients found no evidence of a decreased exacerbation rate or complications. No role for this medication as a treatment for COPD.
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