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BACKGROUND: Opinion and policy over the use of amodiaquine for treating malaria vary. Amodiaquine is more palatable than chloroquine and may be more effective but serious adverse events have been reported in travellers taking it as prophylaxis. It is not recommended as first-line treatment. In the light of the global debate over the use of this drug, we conducted a systematic review of the effectiveness and tolerability of amodiaquine in the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria. METHODS: This is a systematic review of published and unpublished randomised or pseudorandomised trials of amodiaquine. Observational reports were also systematically identified and reviewed to access evidence of serious adverse events. FINDINGS: 40 trials met the inclusion criteria. Symptomatic patients were enrolled in 24 studies in comparisons of amodiaquine (n = 1071) with chloroquine (n = 1097). Amodiaquine was significantly more effective than chloroquine, with odds ratios and 99% confidence intervals (OR [99% CI]) of 4.29 (3.30-5.58) on day 7 and 6.00 (3.97-9.06) on day 14. Time to parasite clearance was significantly shorter with amodiaquine and fever clearance times were marginally faster. Eight studies compared amodiaquine with chloroquine in asymptomatic parasitaemia, with effects on parasitological outcomes similar to those for symptomatic malaria. At twelve sites, 692 amodiaquine and 679 sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine (S/P) recipients were enrolled. The two drugs did not differ significantly on day 7 (OR 0.74 [0.48-1.15]) but the odds ratios favoured S/P on day 14 (OR 0.51 [0.28-0.93]) and on day 28 (OR 0.30 [0.16-0.55]). The time to parasitological clearance was similar in the two groups; fever clearance times were significantly shorter with amodiaquine. Tolerability was assessed for both comparative and non-comparative trials. The rates of adverse events in controlled trials were 10.7%, 8.8%, and 14.3% with amodiaquine, chloroquine, and S/P, respectively. No life-threatening adverse events and no significant shifts in laboratory indices were reported. INTERPRETATION: This systematic review of published and unpublished trials supports the use of amodiaquine in the treatment of uncomplicated malaria. However, there is partial cross-resistance between chloroquine and amodiaquine, and monitoring of the effectiveness of this drug and surveillance for evidence of toxicity must continue.

Original publication




Journal article


Lancet (London, England)

Publication Date





1196 - 1201


UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Training and Research in Tropical Diseases (TDR), World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.


Humans, Malaria, Falciparum, Amodiaquine, Chloroquine, Antimalarials, Treatment Outcome, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic