Background: Current guidelines recommend potent platelet inhibition with prasugrel or ticagrelor for 12 months after an acute coronary syndrome managed with percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). However, the greatest anti-ischaemic benefit of potent antiplatelet drugs over the less potent clopidogrel occurs early, while most excess bleeding events arise during chronic treatment. Hence, a stage-adapted treatment with potent platelet inhibition in the acute phase and de-escalation to clopidogrel in the maintenance phase could be an alternative approach. We aimed to investigate the safety and efficacy of early de-escalation of antiplatelet treatment from prasugrel to clopidogrel guided by platelet function testing (PFT). Methods: In this investigator-initiated, randomised, open-label, assessor-blinded, multicentre trial (TROPICAL-ACS) done at 33 sites in Europe, patients were enrolled if they had biomarker-positive acute coronary syndrome with successful PCI and a planned duration of dual antiplatelet treatment of 12 months. Enrolled patients were randomly assigned (1:1) using an internet-based randomisation procedure with a computer-generated block randomisation with stratification across study sites to either standard treatment with prasugrel for 12 months (control group) or a step-down regimen (1 week prasugrel followed by 1 week clopidogrel and PFT-guided maintenance therapy with clopidogrel or prasugrel from day 14 after hospital discharge; guided de-escalation group). The assessors were masked to the treatment allocation. The primary endpoint was net clinical benefit (cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, stroke or bleeding grade 2 or higher according to Bleeding Academic Research Consortium [BARC]) criteria) 1 year after randomisation (non-inferiority hypothesis; margin of 30%). Analysis was intention to treat. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01959451, and EudraCT, 2013-001636-22. Findings: Between Dec 2, 2013, and May 20, 2016, 2610 patients were assigned to study groups; 1304 to the guided de-escalation group and 1306 to the control group. The primary endpoint occurred in 95 patients (7%) in the guided de-escalation group and in 118 patients (9%) in the control group (p non-inferiority =0·0004; hazard ratio [HR] 0·81 [95% CI 0·62–1·06], p superiority =0·12). Despite early de-escalation, there was no increase in the combined risk of cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, or stroke in the de-escalation group (32 patients [3%]) versus in the control group (42 patients [3%]; p non-inferiority =0·0115). There were 64 BARC 2 or higher bleeding events (5%) in the de-escalation group versus 79 events (6%) in the control group (HR 0·82 [95% CI 0·59–1·13]; p=0·23). Interpretation: Guided de-escalation of antiplatelet treatment was non-inferior to standard treatment with prasugrel at 1 year after PCI in terms of net clinical benefit. Our trial shows that early de-escalation of antiplatelet treatment can be considered as an alternative approach in patients with acute coronary syndrome managed with PCI. Funding: Klinikum der Universität München, Roche Diagnostics, Eli Lilly, and Daiichi Sankyo.
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