Pioneering CCT funded work, carried out by Drs Ian & Lynne Hampson and their clinical PhD student Mr Adam Donne (Now Consultant ENT surgeon at Alder Hey Children Hospital, Liverpool), has shown there may be a problem with a drug that is being used to treat patients with recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP). If there is thought to be sufficient evidence a doctor can opt to use a drug to treat other medical conditions in addition to those that it is licensed for. This is called off-licence use.
The antiviral drug Cidofovir has been widely used off-licence to treat RRP which is a benign papilloma virus infection of the voice-box and windpipe that is found most commonly in children. Cidofovir is typically reserved for the most severely affected patients. CCT sponsored research has shown that this treatment might potentially increase the risk of cancers developing at a later date, a link that has not yet been evident in clinical practice.
This work was published in Antiviral Therapy which is the world’s leading journal on antiviral drugs (Donne et al 2009, Antivir. Ther. 14, p939). This is a very important finding since it may influence a doctors’ decision to use Cidofovir to treat RRP and if so to incorporate this evidence within the informed consent process. If the research findings are correct, restricting the use of this drug to treat this condition may ultimately save lives.