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Ann Oncol. 1996 Nov;7(9):945-52.

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.

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Royal Adelaide Hospital, Australia.



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.


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 Patients who were not rescued or withdrawn on day 1 were to be randomised 24 hours after the start of cisplatin administration to one of four groups; group I placebo oral (p.o.), twice daily (bd) on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).


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).


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.

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