A single center randomized double blind controlled trial of pentoxifylline in acute pancreatitis: Challenges and opportunities

Santhi Swaroop Vege, Masayasu Horibe, Suresh T. Chari, Magdalen A. Clemens, Conor G. Loftus, Felicity T. Enders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Despite substantial morbidity and mortality associated with acute pancreatitis (AP), only one small randomized controlled drug trial (RCT) is available in the past few decades from the United States. Hence, we conducted a single-center, double-blind, placebo-controlled RCT of pentoxifylline in AP. Methods: A total of 9 doses of oral pentoxifylline 400 mg or placebo tablet, three times daily, was administered within 72 h of diagnosis, using randomization blocks by pharmacy. Primary outcome was a composite outcome including any of the following: death, peripancreatic and/or pancreatic necrosis, infected pancreatic necrosis, persistent organ failure, persistent systemic inflammatory response syndrome, hospital stay longer than 4 days, need for intensive care, and need for intervention for necrosis. Results: Between July 7, 2015, and April 4, 2017, we identified 685 patients with AP, 233 met eligibility criteria and 176 were approached for the study. Of these, 91 (51.7%) declined and finally 45 in pentoxifylline group and 38 in placebo group (83 total) were compared. There were no significant differences in primary outcome (27 [60.0%] vs 15 [39.5%]; P = .06). Pentoxifylline group was not associated with any benefit, but withlonger stay (42% vs. 21%; P = .04) and higher readmission rates (16 %vs 3%; P = .047). Conclusions: We could not demonstrate superiority of pentoxifylline over placebo. Smaller sample size and inclusion of all types of severity might be the reasons for lack of efficacy. The challenges observed in the present study indicate that, in order to conduct a successful drug trial in AP, a multi center collaboration is essential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1592-1597
Number of pages6
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Drug trial
  • Peripancreatic necrosis and pancreatic necrosis
  • Persistent organ failure
  • Systemic inflammatory response syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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