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The combination of an oral artemisinin derivative (usually artesunate) and mefloquine has become standard treatment for multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria in several parts of Southeast Asia. The doses of artesunate used in monotherapy and combination treatment have largely been derived empirically. In order to characterize the in vivo dose-response relationship for artesunate and thus rationalize dosing, 47 adult patients with acute uncomplicated falciparum malaria and parasitemia > or = 1% were randomized to receive a single oral dose of artesunate varying between 0 and 250 mg together with a curative dose of oral mefloquine. Acceleration of parasite clearance was used as the pharmacodynamic variable. An inhibitory sigmoidal maximum effect (Emax) pharmacodynamic model typical of a dose-response curve was fitted to the relationship between dose and shortening of parasite clearance time (PCT). The Emax was estimated as 28.6 oral h, and the 50% effective concentration was 1.6 mg/kg of body weight. These results imply that there is no reduction in PCTs with the use of single doses of artesunate higher than 2 mg/kg, and this therefore reflects the average lower limit of the maximally effective dose.

Original publication




Journal article


Antimicrob Agents Chemother

Publication Date





778 - 782


Acute Disease, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Antimalarials, Area Under Curve, Artemisinins, Artesunate, Biotransformation, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Female, Humans, Malaria, Falciparum, Male, Middle Aged, Sesquiterpenes, Treatment Outcome