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BACKGROUND: Artesunate-amodiaquine (AS&AQ) is a widely used artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) for falciparum malaria. A comprehensive appreciation of its effects on haematology vs other anti-malarials is needed in view of potential safety liabilities. METHODS: Individual-patient data analysis conducted on a database from seven randomized controlled trials conducted in sub-Saharan African comparing AS&AQ to reference treatments in uncomplicated falciparum malaria patients of all ages. Haematologic values (white cells total and neutrophil counts, haemoglobin/haematocrit, platelets) were analysed as both continuous and categorical variables for their occurrence, (severity grade 1-4) and changes during follow-up. Risks and trends were calculated using multivariate logistic random effect models. RESULTS: 4,502 patients (72% < 5 years old), from 13 sites in nine countries with 28-day follow-up were treated with AS&AQ (45%) or a comparator (other forms of ACT accounted for 27%, other combination 12%, mono-therapies 16%). Pre-treatment leucopaenia (3%) and neutropaenia (6%) were infrequent; anaemia was common (39%). The treatment-emergent adverse events incidence (TEAE = condition not present or less severe pre-treatment) was 11% for neutropaenia, 6% for thrombocytopaenia with AS&AQ and not different from treatment groups; anaemia was higher with AS&AQ (20%) or other forms of ACT (22%) than in non-artemisinin groups (4%, p = 0.001). Multivariate analysis showed that the risk of anaemia, thrombocytopaenia, and leucopaenia decreased with follow-up time, while neutropaenia increased; the risk of anaemia and thrombocytopaenia increased with higher baseline parasitaemia and parasitological reappearance. White cells total count was not a good surrogate for neutropaenia. No systematic significant difference between treatments was detected. Older patients were at lower risks. CONCLUSION: The effects of AS&AQ on haematologic parameters were not different from those of other anti-malarial treatments used in sub-Saharan Africa. This analysis provides the basis for a broader evaluation of haematology following anti-malarial treatment. Continuing monitoring of haematologic safety on larger databases is required.

Original publication




Journal article


Malaria journal

Publication Date





Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi), Geneva, Switzerland.


Blood Cells, Humans, Artemisinins, Amodiaquine, Drug Combinations, Antimalarials, Blood Chemical Analysis, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Middle Aged, Child, Child, Preschool, Infant, Africa South of the Sahara, Female, Male, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Young Adult