Efficacy of mefloquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine for the treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum infection in Machinga District, Malawi, 1998.

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  • 1 Malaria Epidemiology Branch, Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30341-3717, USA. jmacarthur@cdc.gov

In response to the spread of chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum, Malaŵi changed its first-line antimalarial drug in 1993 from chloroquine to sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP). Surveillance data has suggested that resistance to SP may be increasing. We compared the efficacy of SP with a potential successor, mefloquine (MQ). By use of a modified World Health Organization in vivo protocol, children infected with P. falciparum were randomized to receive SP (sulfadoxine 25 mg/kg) or MQ (15 mg/kg). We observed combined RII and RIII parasitologic failures of 20.0 and 22.0% in the SP and MQ arms, respectively. Among those in the MQ arm, the relative hazard of failing with a Day 2 drug level < 500 ng/mL was 10.6 times higher than those with levels > or = 500 ng/mL. Given the decreased efficacy of the first-line antimalarial drug and the high failure rates of MQ at this lower dosage, Malaŵi should consider assessing the efficacy and feasibility of alternative drugs to treat uncomplicated falciparum malaria.