Cidofovir efficacy in recurrent respiratory papillomatosis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study

Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2008 Jul;117(7):477-83. doi: 10.1177/000348940811700702.


Objectives: We performed a prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled, longitudinal adjuvant therapy trial to determine the efficacy of cidofovir in the treatment of severe recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP). Although results of case series suggest that cidofovir may decrease the frequency and rapidity of papilloma regrowth, no blinded placebo-controlled studies have demonstrated efficacy.

Methods: Adults and children (n = 19) with aggressive RRP received either active drug (cidofovir) or placebo. When surgical intervention was needed, drug or placebo was injected into affected areas after surgical removal of disease. The following measures were made at baseline and at 2-month intervals for the course of 12 months: Derkay papilloma severity grading scale, Voice Handicap Index, Health-Related Quality of Life, and total number of procedures performed over 12 months.

Results: At 2- and 12-month follow-ups, there was a significant (p < .05) improvement in the Derkay Severity Score within the cidofovir and placebo groups, but no difference between groups, and no difference between groups in the number of procedures performed. Significant improvement was found in Voice Handicap Index scores in the cidofovir group at the 12-month follow-up. No differences were seen in Health-Related Quality of Life.

Conclusions: A randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled trial is necessary in the study of RRP, because the natural history of the disease can include remissions and reactivations. We found a significant improvement in the Derkay Severity Score 12 months after the baseline assessment in patients treated with cidofovir. This effect, however, was also seen in the placebo group. Accordingly, we were unable to provide proof of efficacy of cidofovir in the treatment of RRP.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cidofovir
  • Cytosine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Cytosine / therapeutic use
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Organophosphonates / therapeutic use*
  • Papilloma / drug therapy*
  • Papilloma / surgery
  • Quality of Life
  • Respiratory Tract Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Tract Neoplasms / surgery


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Organophosphonates
  • Cytosine
  • Cidofovir