Ibuprofen versus pivmecillinam for uncomplicated urinary tract infection in women—A double-blind, randomized non-inferiority trial


© 2018 Vik et al. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Background: Although uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs) are often self-limiting, most patients will be prescribed antibiotic treatment. We assessed whether treatment with ibuprofen was non-inferior to pivmecillinam in achieving symptomatic resolution by day 4, with a non-inferiority margin of 10%. Methods and findings: This was a randomized, controlled, double-blind non-inferiority trial. We recruited patients from 16 sites in a general practice setting in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Non-pregnant women aged 18–60 years presenting with symptoms of uncomplicated UTI were screened for eligibility from 11 April 2013 to 22 April 2016. Patients with informed consent were randomized (1:1 ratio) to treatment with either 600 mg ibuprofen or 200 mg pivmecillinam 3 times a day for 3 days. The patient, treating physician, and study personnel were blinded to treatment allocation. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients who felt cured by day 4, as assessed from a patient diary. Secondary outcomes included the proportion of patients in need of secondary treatment with antibiotics and cases of pyelonephritis. A total of 383 women were randomly assigned to treatment with either ibuprofen (n = 194, 181 analyzed) or pivmecillinam (n = 189, 178 analyzed). By day 4, 38.7% of the patients in the ibuprofen group felt cured versus 73.6% in the pivmecillinam group. The adjusted risk difference with 90% confidence interval was 35% (27% to 43%) in favor of pivmecillinam, which crossed the prespecified non-inferiority margin. Secondary endpoints were generally in favor of pivmecillinam. After 4 weeks’ follow-up, 53% of patients in the ibuprofen group recovered without antibiotic treatment. Seven cases of pyelonephritis occurred, all in the ibuprofen group, giving a number needed to harm of 26 (95% CI 13 to 103). Five of these patients were hospitalized and classified as having serious adverse events; 2 recovered as outpatients. A limitation of the study was the extensive list of exclusion criteria, eliminating almost half of the patients screened. We did not register symptoms in the screening process; hence, we do not know the symptom burden for those who declined to participate. This might make our results less generalizable. Conclusions: Ibuprofen was inferior to pivmecillinam for treating uncomplicated UTIs. More than half of the women in the ibuprofen group recovered without antibiotics. However, pyelonephritis occurred in 7 out of 181 women using ibuprofen. Until we can identify those women who will develop complications, we cannot recommend ibuprofen alone as initial treatment to women with uncomplicated UTIs.

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