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EFFECTIVE TREATMENT OF UNCOMPLICATED PLASMODIUM FALCIPARUM MALARIA WITH AZITHROMYCIN-QUININE COMBINATIONS: A RANDOMIZED, DOSE-RANGING STUDY

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  • 1 Department of Immunology and Medicine, Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences, Bangkok, Thailand; Kwai River Christian Hospital, Sangkhlaburi, Kanchanaburi, Thailand; Pfizer Inc., New York, New York; Division of Experimental Therapeutics, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, Maryland

Azithromycin, the most potent antimalarial macrolide antibiotic, is synergistic with quinine against Plasmodium falciparum in vitro. We assessed combinations of azithromycin and quinine against uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria at the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences–Kwai River Clinical Center along the Thailand-Myanmar border, an area with a high prevalence of multidrug-resistant P. falciparum. Four regimens were assessed in an open-label dose-ranging design involving 61 volunteers. All received oral quinine (Q; 30 mg/kg/day divided every 8 hours for 3 days) with oral azithromycin (Az; 500 mg twice a day for 3 days, 500 mg twice a day for 5 days, or 500 mg three times a day for 3 days). A comparator group received quinine and doxycycline (Dx; 100 mg twice a day for 7 days). Study observation was 28 days per protocol. Sixty volunteers completed the study. Seven days of QDx cured 100% of the volunteers. One failure occurred in the lowest QAz regimen (on day 28) and none occurred in either of the two higher Az regimens. Cinchonism occurred in nearly all subjects. Overall, the azithromycin regimens were well tolerated, and no volunteers discontinued therapy. Three- and five-day azithromycin-quinine combination therapy appears safe, well tolerated, and effective in curing drug-resistant P. falciparum malaria. Further evaluation, especially in pediatric and obstetric populations, is warranted.

Author Notes

Reprint requests: R. Scott Miller, U.S. Army Medical Component, Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences, APO AP, USA 96546, E-mail: robert.s.miller@us.army.mil.
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