Objective. Sepsis is a complex inflammatory disease, rising in response to infection. Drotrecogin alfa, approved in 2001 for severe sepsis, has been withdrawn from the market. The aim of this study was to assess if drotrecogin alfa-activated can reduce mortality in the more severe septic patients.
Methods. We searched PubMed, Embase, Scopus, BioMedCentral, and in Clinicaltrials. gov databases to identify every randomized study performed on drotrecogin alfa-activated in any clinical setting in humans, without restrictions on dose or time of administration. Our primary end-point was mortality rate in high risk patients. Secondary endpoints were mortality in all patients, in patients with an Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) 2 score ≥ 25 and in those with an APACHE 2 score ≤25.
Results. Five trials were identified and included in the analysis. They randomized 3196 patients to drotrecogin alfa and 3111 to the control group. Drotrecogin alfa was associated with a reduction in mortality (99/263 [37.6%] vs 115/244 [47.1%], risk ratios (RR) = 0.80[0.65; 0.98], p = 0.03) in patients with multiple organ failure and a mortality risk in the control group of >40%, but not in the overall population or in lower risk populations.
Conclusions. In high risk populations of patients with multiple organ failure and a mortality of >40% in the control group, Drotrecogin alfa may still have a role as a lifesaving treatment. No beneficial effect in low risk patients was found. An individual patient meta-analysis including all randomized controlled trial on sepsis is warranted, along with new studies on similar drugs such as protein C zymogen.
Key words: sepsis, shock, intensive care, critically ill, mortality, drotrecogin alfa, recombinant human activated protein C