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N-acetylcysteine in severe falciparum malaria in Thailand.

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Bangkok Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.


One hundred and eight patients with severe falciparum malaria underwent a placebo controlled trial with the antioxidant, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), as an adjunctive therapy along with standard intravenous artesunate therapy. Three NAC dosage regimens were used: an intravenous loading dose of 140 mg/kg followed by 70 mg/kg every four hours intravenously for up to 18 doses (Group 1); a single intravenous loading dose followed by oral NAC in the same amount as for Group 1 (Group 2); a regimen identical to Group 1 except that oral NAC was administered after the first 24 hours (Group 3). Fifty-four patients received placebo plus artesunate. Two critically ill patients died in Group 1. No patient sustained an adverse reaction to the NAC other than vomiting, and the deaths were attributed to severe disease with multiple organ involvement. The excellent results with NAC, the lack of adverse effects, and the rationale for NAC benefit supports the need for a large, double blind trial of NAC as an adjunctive therapy for severe malaria.

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