Randomized controlled trial of artesunate or artemether in Vietnamese adults with severe falciparum malaria.
Phu NH., Tuan PQ., Day N., Mai NTH., Chau TTH., Chuong LV., Sinh DX., White NJ., Farrar J., Hien TT.
BACKGROUND: Both artemether and artesunate have been shown to be superior to quinine for the treatment of severe falciparum malaria in Southeast Asian adults, although the magnitude of the superiority has been greater for artesunate than artemether. These two artemisinin derivatives had not been compared in a randomized trial. METHODS: A randomized double blind trial in 370 adults with severe falciparum malaria; 186 received intramuscular artesunate (2.4 mg/kg immediately followed by 1.2 mg/kg at 12 hours then 24 hours then daily) and 184 received intramuscular artemether (3.6 mg per kilogram immediately followed by 1.8 mg per kilogram daily) was conducted in Viet Nam. Both drugs were given for a minimum of 72 hours. RESULTS: There were 13 deaths in the artesunate group (7 percent) and 24 in the artemether group (13 percent); P = 0.052; relative risk of death in the patients given artesunate, 0.54; (95 percent confidence interval 0.28-1.02). Parasitaemia declined more rapidly in the artesunate group. Both drugs were very well tolerated. CONCLUSIONS: Intramuscular artesunate may be superior to intramuscular artemether for the treatment of severe malaria in adults.