A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial in Tunisia Treating Cutaneous Leishmaniasis with Paromomycin Ointment

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  • Laboratoire d'Epidemiologie et d'Ecologie Parasitaire, et Laboratoire d'Immunologie, Institut Pasteur de Tunis, Direction Regionale de la Sante Publique et Service Regional des Soins de Sante de Base, World Health Organization Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, Tunis, Tunisia
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A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial was carried out in 1992 in central Tunisia to assess the tolerability and efficacy of paromomycin ointment against zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania major. One hundred fifteen patients, 2–60 years of age, with a single lesion of parasitologically confirmed cutaneous leishmaniasis, were included in the trial. The ointment was applied twice a day from day 1 through day 14. Clinical and parasitologic evaluations of lesions were done at days 0, 15, 45, and 105. Fifty-seven patients were allocated the treatment and 58 the placebo. Based on local toxicity and laboratory evaluation, there was no difference in tolerability between the two groups. Parasitologic evaluation at day 15 showed that 74.5% of the treated group had negative smears compared with 56.4% among controls (P = 0.06). This difference was no longer apparent at days 45 and 105. Clinical evaluation at days 15, 45, and 105 did not indicate any difference between the two groups. The clinical evaluation at day 15 was a good predictor of the final prognosis of the lesion in the two groups when analyzed separately, suggesting no clinical relapse in either group. These findings suggest that paromomycin ointment should not be used in the present formulation as a treatment for zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis in Tunisia.