Condition category
Pregnancy and Childbirth
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Prospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg attaches itself somewhere other than inside the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes (the tubes connecting the ovaries and womb, which a mature egg travels down during ovulation). Sadly, there is no chance of this pregnancy surviving and if it is allowed to continue it could potentially be life-threatening to the mother. If an ectopic pregnancy is detected early enough, it can be treated with a single dose of a drug called methotrexate which stops the pregnancy developing. In some cases this single dose of methotrexate is not successful and a further dose of methotrexate is required or surgery may be needed. A more effective treatment is therefore needed to reduce the requirement for repeat doses of methotrexate or surgery. Previous studies using a drug called gefitinib (a drug used in lung cancer patients) in addition to methotrexate have shown promising results, as it appears to have a blocking effect on the cells found in an ectopic pregnancy. These studies were in a small number of women and so a larger study is needed to prove the effectiveness of this treatment. The aim of this study is to find out whether treatment using methotrexate and gefitinib is more effective than methotrexate alone.

Who can participate?
Women aged between 18 and 50 who are being treated for an ectopic pregnancy.

What does the study involve?
Participants are randomly allocated to one of two groups. Those in the first group receive an injection of methotrexate and then take tablets containing gefitinib once a day for seven days. Those in the second group receive an injection of methotrexate and then take tablets containing a placebo (dummy drug) once a day for seven days. Participants in both groups are then monitored for three months in order to find out whether they required any additional treatment (surgery or further methotrexate).

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Not provided at time of registration

Where is the study run from?
Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (lead site) and 49 other centres throughout the England, Scotland and Wales (UK)

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
April 2016 to December 2018

Who is funding the study?
National Institute for Health Research (UK)

Who is the main contact?
Ms Kirandeep Sunner

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Ms Kirandeep Sunner


Contact details

Institute of Applied Health Research
Public Health Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT
United Kingdom
+44 121 4159111

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number

2015-005013-76 number

Protocol/serial number


Study information

Scientific title

A double blind placebo controlled trial of a combination of methotrexate and gefitinib versus methotrexate alone as a treatment for ectopic pregnancy



Study hypothesis

Combination of intramuscular methotrexate and oral gefitinib, an EGFR antagonist, is a more effective treatment for ectopic pregnancy than methotrexate alone.

Ethics approval

Scottish A Research Ethics Committee, 29/02/2016, ref: 16/SS/0014

Study design

Multi-centre double-blind randomised controlled trial

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Randomised controlled trial

Trial setting


Trial type


Patient information sheet


Ectopic Pregnancy


Participants will be randomly allocated to one of two study arms using a computer-based algorithm to avoid chance imbalances in stratification variables.

Arm 1: Participants are administered 50mg/m2 methotrexate as intramuscular injection and take a single tablet containing 250mg gefitinib daily for seven days.

Arm 2: Participants are administered 50mg/m2 methotrexate as intramuscular injection and take a single tablet containing a placebo daily for seven days.

Participants will be monitored as per local standards care for an ectopic pregnancy post randomisation so they will have their routine blood tested which includes checking safety bloods and measurement of hCG levels. In addition to this the trial requires participants to have an additional safety blood to ensure that the treatment is not causing any untoward effects. Once the hCG level has dropped to 15iu/L the research team will call the participant 3 months after resolution to complete the 3 month questionnaire.

Intervention type



Phase III

Drug names


Primary outcome measures

Need for surgical intervention for treatment of ectopic pregnancy is determined through interviews with patients at clinic appointments and at the 3 month follow up telephone call.

Secondary outcome measures

1. Need for additional methotrexate treatment is determined through interviews with patients at clinic appointments
2. Time to hCG resolution (days) from randomisation to hCG level of ≤15 iu/L calculated from the day of diagnosis to the day the hCG dropped to 15iu/L, is determined through blood testing at baseline and throughout the trial based on local trust policy
3. Number of treatment-associated hospital visits until resolution or scheduled/emergency surgery is determined through medical record review at 3 months
4. Safety/tolerability is assessed through blood testing undertaken within 3 days of randomisation and 14-21 days post randomisation and patient interviews at clinic visits 14-21 days post randomisation
5. Acceptaibility of treatment is assessed using the Likert score after 3 months through a follow up telephone call at 3 months
6. Return to menses is assessed after 3 months post resolution of the ectopic pregnancy through a follow up telephone call at 3 months

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned


Participant inclusion criteria

1. Clinical decision made for treatment of tubal EP with MTX
2. Able to understand all information (written and oral) presented (using an interpreter if necessary) and provide signed consent
3. Women 18-50 years at time of randomisation
4. Diagnosis of either:
4.1. Definite tubal EP (extrauterine gestational sac with yolk sac and/or embryo, without cardiac activity on USS) or
4.2. Clinical decision of probable tubal EP (extrauterine sac-like structure or inhomogeneous adnexal mass on USS with a background of sub optimally rising serum hCG concentrations (on at least 2 different days)
5. Pre-treatment serum hCG level of 1000–5000 iu/L (within 1 calendar day of treatment)
6. Clinically stable
7. Haemoglobin between 100 and 165 g/L within 3 calendar days of treatment
8. Able to comply with treatment and willing to participate in follow up

Participant type


Age group




Target number of participants


Participant exclusion criteria

1. Women with a Ppregnancy of unknown location (PUL)
2. Evidence of intrauterine pregnancy
3. Breastfeeding
4. Hypersensitivity to gefitinib
5. Women with mean EP mass on ultrasound greater than 3.5cm (mean dimensions)
6. Women with evidence of intrauterine pregnancy
7. Evidence of significant intra-abdominal bleed on ultrasound USS defined by echogenic free fluid above the uterine fundus or surrounding ovary within 1 calendar day of treatment
8. Significant abdominal pain, guarding/rigidity
9. Clinically significant abnormal liver/renal/haematological indices noted within 3 calendar days of treatment
10. Galactose intolerance
11. Significant pre-existing dermatological disease eg severe psoriasis/eczema
12. Significant pulmonary disease eg severe/uncontrolled asthma
13. Significant gastrointestinal medical illness eg Crohn’s disease/ulcerative colitis
14. Participating in any other clinical trial of an investigational medicinal product
15. Previous participation in GEM3
16. Women of Japanese ethnicity

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment

United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
51 Little France Crescent
EH16 4SA
United Kingdom

Sponsor information


University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian ACCORD

Sponsor details

The Queens Medical Research Institute
47 Little France Crescent
EH16 4TJ
United Kingdom
+44 121 415 91111

Sponsor type




Funder type


Funder name

National Institute for Health Research

Alternative name(s)


Funding Body Type

government organisation

Funding Body Subtype

Federal/National Government


United Kingdom

Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

Planned publication in a high-impact peer reviewed journal.

IPD sharing plan:
The current data sharing plans for the current study are unknown and will be made available at a later date

Intention to publish date


Participant level data

To be made available at a later date

Results - basic reporting

Publication summary

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes

19/09/2016: Verified study information with principal investigator.