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BACKGROUND:While the combination of nifurtimox and eflornithine (NECT) is currently recommended for the treatment of the late stage human African trypansomiasis (HAT), single-agent eflornithine was still the treatment of choice when this trial commenced. This study intended to provide supportive evidence to complement previous trials. METHODS:A multi-centre randomised, open-label, non-inferiority trial was carried out in the Trypanosoma brucei gambiense endemic districts of North-Western Uganda to compare the efficacy and safety of NECT (200 mg/kg eflornithine infusions every 12 h for 7 days and 8 hourly oral nifurtimox at 5 mg/kg for 10 days) to the standard eflornithine regimen (6 hourly at 100 mg/kg for 14 days). The primary endpoint was the cure rate, determined as the proportion of patients alive and without laboratory signs of infection at 18 months post-treatment, with no demonstrated trypanosomes in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), blood or lymph node aspirates, and CSF white blood cell count < 20 /μl. The non-inferiority margin was set at 10%. RESULTS:One hundred and nine patients were enrolled; all contributed to the intent-to-treat (ITT), modified intent-to-treat (mITT) and safety populations, while 105 constituted the per-protocol population (PP). The cure rate was 90.9% for NECT and 88.9% for eflornithine in the ITT and mITT populations; the same was 90.6 and 88.5%, respectively in the PP population. Non-inferiority was demonstrated for NECT in all populations: differences in cure rates were 0.02 (95% CI: -0.07-0.11) and 0.02 (95% CI: -0.08-0.12) respectively. Two patients died while on treatment (1 in each arm), and 3 more during follow-up in the NECT arm. No difference was found between the two arms for the secondary efficacy and safety parameters. A meta-analysis involving several studies demonstrated non-inferiority of NECT to eflornithine monotherapy. CONCLUSIONS:These results confirm findings of earlier trials and support implementation of NECT as first-line treatment for late stage T. b. gambiense HAT. The overall risk difference for cure between NECT and eflornithine between this and two previous randomised controlled trials is 0.03 (95% CI: -0.02-0.08). The NECT regimen is simpler, safer, shorter and less expensive than single-agent DFMO. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ISRCTN ISRCTN03148609 (registered 18 April 2008).

Original publication




Journal article


Parasites & vectors

Publication Date





Busitema University Faculty of Health Sciences, Box 1460, Mbale, Uganda.


Humans, Trypanosoma brucei gambiense, Trypanosomiasis, African, Nifurtimox, Eflornithine, Trypanocidal Agents, Treatment Outcome, Drug Therapy, Combination, Follow-Up Studies, Safety, Adolescent, Adult, Uganda, Female, Male, Young Adult