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Will SUMMIT reach the peak in COPD?
  1. Samy Suissa
  1. Correspondence to Professor Samy Suissa, McGill University, Centre for Clinical Epidemiology, Jewish General Hospital, 3755 Cote Ste-Catherine, H4.61, Montreal, Québec, Canada H3T 1E2; samy.suissa{at}

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The Study to Understand Mortality and Morbidity in COPD (SUMMIT) is a randomised controlled trial conducted in patients with COPD and comorbid cardiovascular disease, designed to assess the ‘impact of Fluticasone Furoate/Vilanterol combination (FF/VI) and its individual components on the survival of patients with moderate COPD and either a history of CVD or at increased risk for CVD’.1 Fluticasone furoate is an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) and vilanterol is a long-acting β-agonist (LABA). The trial is enrolling 16 000 such patients with moderate COPD randomly assigned to once daily treatment with this ICS–LABA combination, the ICS only, the LABA only or placebo. Patients in this event-driven trial will be followed up until 1000 deaths occur, which is expected to take up to 44 months. Mortality is the primary endpoint and the primary comparison is between the ICS–LABA combination and placebo. The study is designed as a superiority trial with 90% power to detect a 30% reduction in all-cause mortality when comparing the ICS–LABA with placebo at the two-sided 1% significance level. Secondary endpoints will also be studied, including lung function decline and composite cardiovascular events.

The design of SUMMIT is similar to that of the Towards a Revolution in COPD Health (TORCH) trial,2 with the exception that SUMMIT focuses on a study population of patients with moderate COPD and at cardiovascular risk. As well, while all patients in TORCH were followed for an exact 3-year period, SUMMIT being event-driven is expected to follow-up patients between 15 and 44 months.

At first glance, the SUMMIT trial appears to have set unattainable goals. Indeed, the magnitude of the targeted effect in terms of power, a 30% reduction in all-cause mortality (HR=0.70), seems overly ambitious. In the TORCH trial, the target for this same outcome was a 27% reduction (HR=0.73) with an even smaller sample …

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  • Competing interests SS has participated in advisory board meetings or as speaker in conferences for AstraZeneca, Boehringer-Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Nycomed and Pfizer, and has received research funding from Boehringer-Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline and Schering-Plough.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.