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N Engl J Med. 2019 Jan 30. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1811400. [Epub ahead of print]

Effect of Adding Azithromycin to Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention.

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From the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London (D.C., M.C., I.K., P.M., B.G.); the Malaria Research and Training Center, University of Science, Techniques, and Technologies of Bamako, Bamako, Mali (A.D., I.S., M.D., A.B., A. Tapily, S.C., I.T., O.D.); and Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé, Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso (I.Z., F.N., S.Y., A. Traore, H.T., J.-B.O.).



Mass administration of azithromycin for trachoma control led to a sustained reduction in all-cause mortality among Ethiopian children. Whether the addition of azithromycin to the monthly sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine plus amodiaquine used for seasonal malaria chemoprevention could reduce mortality and morbidity among African children was unclear.


We randomly assigned children 3 to 59 months of age, according to household, to receive either azithromycin or placebo, together with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine plus amodiaquine, during the annual malaria-transmission season in Burkina Faso and Mali. The drug combinations were administered in four 3-day cycles, at monthly intervals, for three successive seasons. The primary end point was death or hospital admission for at least 24 hours that was not due to trauma or elective surgery. Data were recorded by means of active and passive surveillance.


In July 2014, a total of 19,578 children were randomly assigned to receive seasonal malaria chemoprevention plus either azithromycin (9735 children) or placebo (9843 children); each year, children who reached 5 years of age exited the trial and new children were enrolled. In the intention-to-treat analysis, the overall number of deaths and hospital admissions during three malaria-transmission seasons was 250 in the azithromycin group and 238 in the placebo group (events per 1000 child-years at risk, 24.8 vs. 23.5; incidence rate ratio, 1.1; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.88 to 1.3). Results were similar in the per-protocol analysis. The following events occurred less frequently with azithromycin than with placebo: gastrointestinal infections (1647 vs. 1985 episodes; incidence rate ratio, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.79 to 0.91), upper respiratory tract infections (4893 vs. 5763 episodes; incidence rate ratio, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.81 to 0.90), and nonmalarial febrile illnesses (1122 vs. 1424 episodes; incidence rate ratio, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.73 to 0.87). The prevalence of malaria parasitemia and incidence of adverse events were similar in the two groups.


Among children in Burkina Faso and Mali, the addition of azithromycin to the antimalarial agents used for seasonal malaria chemoprevention did not result in a lower incidence of death or hospital admission that was not due to trauma or surgery than antimalarial agents plus placebo, although a lower disease burden was noted with azithromycin than with placebo. (Funded by the Joint Global Health Trials scheme; number, NCT02211729 .).

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