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Acta Trop. 2003 Dec;89(1):47-53.

Randomised efficacy and safety study of two 3-day artesunate rectal capsule/mefloquine regimens versus artesunate alone for uncomplicated malaria in Ecuadorian children.

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  • 1Medical Sciences Faculty, Institute of Biomedicine, Catholic University, P.O. Box 593 04 4671, Guayaquil, Ecuador.


The combination of artesunate and mefloquine is one of the most effective treatments against multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria. Experience in children is however limited. The objective of this study was to compare the efficacy and safety of two artesunate/mefloquine combinations with artesunate monotherapy in Ecuadorian children. A total of 150 children with an age between 2 and 12 years, confirmed to have uncomplicated falciparum malaria, were randomly selected and divided in three treatment groups of 50 patients each. Group 1 received 50 mg rectal capsules alone (40 mg/kg total dose) administered over 6 days. Group 2 received 50 mg rectal capsules (30 mg/kg total dose) for 3 days combined with mefloquine (20 mg/kg total dose) on day 1. Group 3 was treated with 50 mg rectal capsules (30 mg/kg total dose) for 3 days, combined with mefloquine on days 1 and 3 (15-17 mg/kg total dose). Patients were continuously followed up and controlled by clinical and laboratory examinations for 7 days as well as on days 14, 21 and 28. An additional parasite examination was performed at 2 months following therapy. Clearance of parasitaemia was comparable between treatment groups. These were 9.2, 9.2 and 8.3 h for Groups 1, 2 and 3, respectively. Cure rates at day 28 were 76, 96 and 94% and after 2 months 60, 88 and 80%, respectively. There were no adverse events (AEs) reported during the study. Vital signs and laboratory examinations revealed no changes of clinical relevance. It can be concluded that the combination of artesunate rectal capsules with mefloquine is effective and safe. Starting concomitant administration already on day 1 is well tolerated. This combination significantly reduces the incidence of recrudescence compared to artesunate monotherapy. Comparing the two tested artesunate/mefloquine regimens, a total mefloquine dose of 20 mg/kg seems to be more effective compared to a total dose of 15-17 mg/kg. Further studies seem to be warranted.

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