A multicentre, double-blind study comparing placebo, ondansetron and ondansetron plus dexamethasone for the control of cisplatin-induced delayed emesis. Ondansetron Delayed Emesis Study Group

Ann Oncol. 1996 Nov;7(9):945-52. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.annonc.a010798.


Background: The purpose of this study was to investigate the efficacy and safety of oral ondansetron, given alone or in combination with dexamethasone in the control of cisplatin-induced delayed emesis.

Patients and methods: This was an international, multicentre, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled, parallel group study. A total of 640 chemotherapy-naïve patients received ondansetron 8 mg i.v. and dexamethasone 20 mg i.v. for the control of acute emesis prior to cisplatin (> or = 70 mg/m2) on day 1. Patients who were not rescued or withdrawn on day 1 were to be randomised 24 hours after the start of cisplatin administration to one of four groups; group I placebo oral (p.o.), twice daily (bd) on days 2-6 (n = 125); group II ondansetron (8 mg p.o. bd) on days 2/3 followed by placebo (p.o. bd) on days 4-6 (n = 199); group III ondansetron (8 mg p.o. bd) on days 2-6 (n = 214); group IV ondansetron (8 mg p.o. bd) plus dexamethasone (4 mg p.o. bd) on days 2-6 (n = 66).

Results: On day 1, 81% of patients had complete control of acute emesis, with 68% having no emesis and no nausea. Over days 2/3 and over days 2-6, significantly more patients receiving ondansetron plus dexamethasone (group IV) reported no emesis and no nausea (49% and 45%, respectively) compared to ondansetron alone (32% and 27%, respectively) or placebo (group I; 33% and 27%, respectively; P < 0.05 for all pairwise comparisons). There were no significant differences in the control of emesis over days 2/3, where 61% of patients had complete emetic control (0 emetic episodes) with ondansetron plus dexamethasone (group IV), 54% with ondansetron (groups II + III) and 49% with placebo (group I). In the distribution of nausea grades, ondansetron plus dexamethasone (group IV) was significantly superior to ondansetron (groups II + III); P = 0.037) and placebo (group I; P = 0.013) over days 2/3. Over days 2-6 there were no significant differences in the control of emesis, however a comparison of the distribution of nausea grades over days 2-6 showed ondansetron plus dexamethasone (group IV) to be significantly superior to ondansetron (group III; P = 0.043) and placebo (group I; P = 0.024). All treatments were well tolerated and no unexpected drug-related adverse events were reported. There were no differences in the overall incidence of adverse events between the active treatment groups or placebo. Constipation and headache, recognised side effects of 5-HT3 receptor antagonists, were the most commonly reported adverse events with the incidence of constipation with ondansetron alone (group III) being significantly greater than with over days 2-6 (14% vs. 6%; P = 0.030).

Conclusion: In contrast to some previous investigations, in this study, ondansetron alone appears to have a minor role in the control of cisplatin-induced delayed emesis and nausea. In conclusion, the combination of oral ondansetron plus dexamethasone is superior to ondansetron and to placebo.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antiemetics / adverse effects
  • Antiemetics / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cisplatin / adverse effects*
  • Cisplatin / therapeutic use
  • Dexamethasone / adverse effects
  • Dexamethasone / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nausea / chemically induced*
  • Nausea / prevention & control*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Ondansetron / adverse effects
  • Ondansetron / therapeutic use*
  • Placebos
  • Time Factors
  • Vomiting / chemically induced*
  • Vomiting / prevention & control*


  • Antiemetics
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Placebos
  • Ondansetron
  • Dexamethasone
  • Cisplatin