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Version 2. Wellcome Open Res. 2019 Apr 9 [revised 2019 Apr 9];4:25. doi: 10.12688/wellcomeopenres.15100.2. eCollection 2019.

The impact of using primaquine without prior G6PD testing: a case series describing the obstacles to the medical management of haemolysis.

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Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Mae Sot, Thailand.
Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
Department of Medicine, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland.


Radical cure of Plasmodium vivax malaria in glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficient individuals employs weekly primaquine dosing. This is the only recommended regimen for this patient sub-group. If national malaria programs mandate daily primaquine dosing (the recommended regimen for G6PD normal individuals), then G6PD testing before prescription is necessary to avoid iatrogenic haemolysis in G6PD deficient individuals. In this case series, two P. vivax infected patients with unknown G6PD status from two different countries were prescribed primaquine as per national malaria program guidelines. During treatment both patients presented to the clinic with symptoms of anaemia after taking primaquine incorrectly. The clinical management of the iatrogenic severe haemolysis that occurred in these patients demonstrates the various adverse effects primaquine can cause, that other common medical treatments also have haemolytic potential, and how the diagnosis of G6PD deficiency can be elusive during acute haemolysis. Health care providers should provide careful instructions about primaquine dosing, be watchful for haemolysis, and have a high index of suspicion for G6PD deficiency in the presence of haemolysis if the G6PD status is previously unknown.


G6PD deficiency; Haemolysis; Plasmodium vivax; Primaquine

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