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Lancet. 2000 Jan 29;355(9201):352-7.

Efficacy of artesunate plus pyrimethamine-sulphadoxine for uncomplicated malaria in Gambian children: a double-blind, randomised, controlled trial.

Author information

1
Farafenni Field Station, Medical Research Council Laboratories, The Gambia. lseidlein@mrc.gm

Erratum in

  • Lancet 2000 Jun 10;355(9220):2080.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Resistance to cheap effective antimalarial drugs, especially to pyrimethaminesulphadoxine (Fansidar), is likely to have a striking impact on childhood mortality in sub-Sharan Africa. The use of artesunate (artesunic acid) [corrected] in combination with pyrimethamine-sulphadoxine may delay or prevent resistance. We investigated the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of this combined treatment.

METHODS:

We did a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial in The Gambia. 600 children with acute uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria, aged 6 months to 10 years, at five health centres were randomly assigned pyrimethaminesulphadoxine (25 mg/500 mg) with placebo; pyrimethamine-sulphadoxine plus one dose of artesunate (4mg/kg bodyweight); or pyrimethamine-sulphadoxine plus one dose 4 mg/kg bodyweight artesunate daily for 3 days. Children were visited at home each day after the start of treatment until parasitaemia had cleared.

FINDINGS:

The combined treatment was well tolerated. No adverse reactions attributable to treatment were recorded. By day 1, only 178 (47%) of 381 children treated with artesunate were still parasitaemic, compared with 157 (81%) of 195 children in the pyrimethamine-sulphadoxine alone group (relative risk 1.7 [95% CI 1.5-2.0], p<0.001). Treatment-failure rates at day 14 were 3.1% in the pyrimethamine sulphadoxine alone group, and 3.7% in the one-dose artesunate group (risk difference -0.6% [-4.2 to 3.0]) and 1.6% in the three-dose group (1.5 [1.5-4.5], p=0.048). Symptoms resolved faster in children who received artesunate, but there was no additional benefit for three doses of artesunate over one dose. Children given artesunate were less likely to be gametocytaemic after treatment.

INTERPRETATION:

The combined treatment was safe, well tolerated, and effective. The addition of artesunate to malaria treatment regimens in Africa results in lower gametocyte rates and may lower transmission rates.

PIP:

This double-blind, randomized, controlled study investigated the efficacy, safety and tolerability of artesunate plus pyrimethamine-sulphadoxine for uncomplicated malaria among Gambian children. Combined use of artesunate and pyrimethamine-sulphadoxine was hypothesized to delay or prevent resistance, which proved to be effective in reducing childhood mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. A total of 600 children with acute uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria, 6 months to 10 years old, were randomly administered pyrimethamine-sulphadoxine (25 mg/500 mg) with placebo, 4 mg/kg body weight pyrimethamine-sulphadoxine plus 1 dose of artesunate, or pyrimethamine-sulphadoxine plus 4 mg/kg body weight artesunate for 3 days. Results indicate that combined treatment was well tolerated. On day 1, 178 of 381 children treated with artesunate were still parasitemic compared with 157 of 195 children in the pyrimethamine-sulphadoxine group. On the other hand, failure rates on day 14 were 3.1% in the pyrimethamine-sulphadoxine group and 3.7% in the 1-dose artesunate group and 1.6% in the 3-dose group. Insignificant differences were found among children administered 1-dose and 3-dose artesunate, and were found less likely to be gametocytemic after treatment. In conclusion, this study confirms the safety and efficacy of a combined treatment, which eventually results in lower gametocyte rates and lower transmission rates.

Comment in

  • ACP J Club. 2000 Nov-Dec;133(3):98.
PMID:
10665554
DOI:
10.1016/S0140-6736(99)10237-X
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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