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Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2002 Aug;58(5):339-51. Epub 2002 Jul 13.

Population pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic modelling of artemisinin and mefloquine enantiomers in patients with falciparum malaria.

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Division of Pharmacokinetics and Drug Therapy, Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, Uppsala University, Box 591, BMC, 751 24 Uppsala, Sweden.



The aims of this study were to investigate whether artemisinin influences the pharmacokinetics of mefloquine enantiomers or vice versa and to model the antiparasitic effect of these drugs alone and in combination in Plasmodium falciparum malaria patients.


Forty-two male and female patients were randomised to treatment with either oral artemisinin 500 mg daily for 3 days followed by oral mefloquine 750 mg on day 4, oral artemisinin 500 mg daily for 3 days plus oral mefloquine 750 mg on day 1 or a single 750-mg oral dose of mefloquine. The data was modelled using NONMEM.


All patients were successfully treated regardless of treatment. The fastest parasite clearance rates were observed in patients receiving artemisinin together with mefloquine on the first day of treatment. A pharmacodynamic model based on the life cycle of P. falciparum successfully described the efficacy of artemisinin, mefloquine and the combination. The time artemisinin concentration stays above a minimum inhibitory concentration was estimated to 2.97 h (relative standard error 4.7 h). The two mefloquine enantiomers exhibited different pharmacokinetics, with an oral clearance of 3.51 (7.9) l/h and 0.602 (6.9) l/h for RS-mefloquine and SR-mefloquine, respectively. In patients receiving only artemisinin the first 3 days, artemisinin oral clearance was 6.9-fold higher the last day of treatment compared with the first day. There was no difference in the pharmacokinetics of mefloquine enantiomers when mefloquine was given alone, in combination with artemisinin or after a 3-day regimen of artemisinin. There was a tendency towards, although non-significant, higher artemisinin concentrations when artemisinin was given together with mefloquine compared with when given alone.


No significant pharmacokinetic interactions were observed after co-administration of artemisinin and mefloquine. The P. falciparum malaria pharmacodynamic model successfully described the antimalarial effect of artemisinin, mefloquine and a combination of the two drugs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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