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Background & aimsThirty-to-forty percent of patients with primary biliary cholangitis inadequately respond to ursodeoxycholic acid. Our aim was to assemble national, real-world data on the effectiveness of obeticholic acid (OCA) as a second-line treatment, alongside non-licensed therapy with fibric acid derivatives (bezafibrate or fenofibrate).MethodsThis was a nationwide observational cohort study conducted from August 2017 until June 2021.ResultsWe accrued data from 457 patients; 349 treated with OCA and 108 with fibric acid derivatives. At baseline/pre-treatment, individuals in the OCA group manifest higher risk features compared with those taking fibric acid derivatives, evidenced by more elevated alkaline phosphatase values, and a larger proportion of individuals with cirrhosis, abnormal bilirubin, prior non-response to ursodeoxycholic acid, and elastography readings >9.6kPa (P < .05 for all). Overall, 259 patients (OCA) and 80 patients (fibric acid derivatives) completed 12 months of second-line therapy, yielding a dropout rate of 25.7% and 25.9%, respectively. At 12 months, the magnitude of alkaline phosphatase reduction was 29.5% and 56.7% in OCA and fibric acid groups (P < .001). Conversely, 55.9% and 36.4% of patients normalized serum alanine transaminase and bilirubin in the OCA group (P < .001). The proportion with normal alanine transaminase or bilirubin values in the fibric acid group was no different at 12 months compared with baseline. Twelve-month biochemical response rates were 70.6% with OCA and 80% under fibric acid treatment (P = .121). Response rates between treatment groups were no different on propensity-score matching or on sub-analysis of high-risk groups defined at baseline.ConclusionAcross the population of patients with primary biliary cholangitis in the United Kingdom, rates of biochemical response and drug discontinuation appear similar under fibric acid and OCA treatment.

Original publication




Journal article


Clinical gastroenterology and hepatology : the official clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association

Publication Date





1561 - 1570.e13


National Institute for Health and Care Research Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre, Centre for Liver and Gastroenterology Research, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom; Liver Unit, University Hospitals Birmingham Queen Elizabeth. Birmingham, United Kingdom; Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.


Humans, Liver Cirrhosis, Biliary, Cholangitis, Bilirubin, Ursodeoxycholic Acid, Alkaline Phosphatase, Alanine Transaminase, Fibric Acids