A clinical and pharmacokinetic trial of six doses of artemether-lumefantrine for multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Thailand.

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  • 1 Novartis Pharma, International Clinical Development, Basel, Switzerland.

The efficacy-safety and pharmacokinetics of the six-dose regimen of artemether-lumefantrine (Coartem/Riamet; Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland) were assessed in a randomized trial in 219 patients (> or = 12 years old) with acute, uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Thailand. One hundred and sixty-four patients received artemether-lumefantrine and 55 received the standard treatment combination of mefloquine-artesunate. Both drugs induced rapid clearance of parasites and malaria symptoms. The 28-day cure rates were 95.5% (90% confidence interval [CI] = 91.7, 97.9%) for artemether-lumefantrine and 100% (90% CI = 94.5, 100%) for mefloquine-artesunate. This high-dose regimen of artemether-lumefantrine was very well tolerated, with very good compliance. The most frequent adverse events were headache, dizziness, nausea, abdominal pain, dyspepsia, vomiting, and skin rash. Overall, only 2% of patients in both groups showed QTc prolongations but without any cardiac complication, and no differences were seen between patients with and without measurable baseline plasma levels of quinine or mefloquine. Plasma levels of artemether, dihydroartemisinin, and lumefantrine were consistent with historical data for the same dose regimen, and were higher, particularly for lumefantrine, than those previously observed with the four-dose regimen, explaining the greater efficacy of the six-dose regimen in a drug-resistant setting. These results confirm the excellent safety and efficacy of the six-dose regimen of artemether-lumefantrine in the treatment of multidrug-resistant P. falciparum malaria.