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BACKGROUND: In 2016, an expert working group was convened under the auspices of the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis (ESCEO) and formulated consensus recommendations for the conduct of clinical trials for drugs to prevent or treat sarcopenia. AIMS: The objective of the current paper is to provide a 2020 update of the previous recommendations in accordance with the evidence that has become available since our original recommendations. METHODS: This paper is based on literature reviews performed by members of the ESCEO working group and followed up with face to face meetings organized for the whole group to make amendments and discuss further recommendations. RESULTS: The randomized placebo-controlled double-blind parallel-arm drug clinical trials should be the design of choice for both phase II and III trials. Treatment and follow-up should run at least 6 months for phase II and 12 months for phase III trials. Overall physical activity, nutrition, co-prescriptions and comorbidity should be recorded. Participants in these trials should be at least 70-years-old and present with a combination of low muscle strength and low physical performance. Severely malnourished individuals, as well as bedridden patients, patients with extremely limited mobility or individuals with physical limitations clearly attributable to the direct effect of a specific disease, should be excluded. Multiple outcomes are proposed for phase II trials, including, as example, physical performance, muscle strength and mass, muscle metabolism and muscle-bone interaction. For phase III trials, we recommend a co-primary endpoint of a measure of functional performance and a Patient Reported Outcome Measure. CONCLUSION: The working group has formulated consensus recommendations on specific aspects of trial design, and in doing so hopes to contribute to an improvement of the methodological robustness and comparability of clinical trials. Standardization of designs and outcomes would advance the field by allowing better comparison across studies, including performing individual patient-data meta-analyses, and different pro-myogenic therapies.

Original publication




Journal article


Aging clin exp res

Publication Date



Clinical trial, Drug registration, Guidelines, Recommendations, Sarcopenia, Treatment