Imiquimod versus podophyllotoxin, with and without human papillomavirus vaccine, for anogenital warts: the HIPvac factorial RCT.


The objective was to compare the efficacy of imiquimod and podophyllotoxin creams to treat anogenital warts and to assess whether or not the addition of quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine increases wart clearance or prevention of recurrence.

A total of 503 participants were enrolled and attended at least one follow-up visit. The mean age was 31 years, 66% of participants were male (24% of males were men who have sex with men), 50% had a previous history of warts and 2% were living with human immunodeficiency virus. For the primary outcome, the adjusted odds ratio for imiquimod cream versus podophyllotoxin cream was 0.81 (95% confidence interval 0.54 to 1.23), and for quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine versus placebo, the adjusted odds ratio was 1.46 (95% confidence interval 0.97 to 2.20). For the components of the primary outcome, the adjusted odds ratio for wart free at week 16 for imiquimod versus podophyllotoxin was 0.77 (95% confidence interval 0.52 to 1.14) and for quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine versus placebo was 1.30 (95% confidence interval 0.89 to 1.91). The adjusted odds ratio for remaining wart free at 48 weeks (in those who were wart free at week 16) for imiquimod versus podophyllotoxin was 0.98 (95% confidence interval 0.54 to 1.78) and for quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine versus placebo was 1.39 (95% confidence interval 0.73 to 2.63). Podophyllotoxin plus quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine had inconclusive cost-effectiveness compared with podophyllotoxin alone.

A benefit of the vaccine was not demonstrated in this trial. The odds of clearance at week 16 and remaining clear at week 48 were 46% higher with vaccine, and consistent effects were seen for both wart clearance and recurrence separately, but these differences were not statistically significant. Imiquimod and podophyllotoxin creams had similar efficacy for wart clearance, but with a wide confidence interval. The trial results do not support earlier evidence of a lower recurrence with use of imiquimod than with use of podophyllotoxin. Podophyllotoxin without quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine is the most cost-effective strategy at the current vaccine list price. A further larger trial is needed to definitively investigate the effect of the vaccine; studies of the immune response in vaccine recipients are needed to investigate the mechanism of action.

Current Controlled Trials. Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN32729817 and EudraCT 2013-002951-14.

The setting was 22 sexual health clinics in England and Wales.

Participants were patients with a first or repeat episode of anogenital warts who had not been treated in the previous 3 months and had not previously received quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine.

Hepatitis A vaccine as control was replaced by a saline placebo in a non-identical syringe, administered by someone outside the research team, for logistical reasons. Sample size was reduced from 1000 to 500 because of slow recruitment and other delays.

A randomised, controlled, multicentre, partially blinded factorial trial. Participants were randomised equally to four groups, combining either topical treatment with quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine or placebo. Randomisation was stratified by gender, a history of previous warts and human immunodeficiency virus status. There was an accompanying economic evaluation, conducted from the provider perspective over the trial duration.

; Vol. 24, No. 47. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.

, Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA) in the treatment and prevention of recurrence of anogenital warts is not known.

The main outcome measures were a combined primary outcome of wart clearance at week 16 and remaining wart free at week 48. Efficacy analysis was by logistic regression with multiple imputation for missing follow-up values; economic evaluation considered the costs per quality-adjusted life-year.

; GlaxoSmithKlein plc, Brentford, UK) for 4 weeks, which was extended to up to 16 weeks if warts persisted. Participants were simultaneously randomised to quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine (Gardasil) or saline control at 0, 8 and 24 weeks. Cryotherapy was permitted after week 4 at the discretion of the investigator.

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