An open-label, randomised study of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine versus artesunate-mefloquine for falciparum malaria in Asia.
Valecha N., Phyo AP., Mayxay M., Newton PN., Krudsood S., Keomany S., Khanthavong M., Pongvongsa T., Ruangveerayuth R., Uthaisil C., Ubben D., Duparc S., Bacchieri A., Corsi M., Rao BHK., Bhattacharya PC., Dubhashi N., Ghosh SK., Dev V., Kumar A., Pukrittayakamee S.
BACKGROUND: The artemisinin-based combination treatment (ACT) of dihydroartemisinin (DHA) and piperaquine (PQP) is a promising novel anti-malarial drug effective against multi-drug resistant falciparum malaria. The aim of this study was to show non-inferiority of DHA/PQP vs. artesunate-mefloquine (AS+MQ) in Asia. METHODS AND FINDINGS: This was an open-label, randomised, non-inferiority, 63-day follow-up study conducted in Thailand, Laos and India. Patients aged 3 months to 65 years with Plasmodium falciparum mono-infection or mixed infection were randomised with an allocation ratio of 2:1 to a fixed-dose DHA/PQP combination tablet (adults: 40 mg/320 mg; children: 20 mg/160 [DOSAGE ERROR CORRECTED] mg; n = 769) or loose combination of AS+MQ (AS: 50 mg, MQ: 250 mg; n = 381). The cumulative doses of study treatment over the 3 days were of about 6.75 mg/kg of DHA and 54 mg/kg of PQP and about 12 mg/kg of AS and 25 mg/kg of MQ. Doses were rounded up to the nearest half tablet. The primary endpoint was day-63 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) genotype-corrected cure rate. Results were 87.9% for DHA/PQP and 86.6% for AS+MQ in the intention-to-treat (ITT; 97.5% one-sided confidence interval, CI: >-2.87%), and 98.7% and 97.0%, respectively, in the per protocol population (97.5% CI: >-0.39%). No country effect was observed. Kaplan-Meier estimates of proportions of patients with new infections on day 63 (secondary endpoint) were significantly lower for DHA/PQP than AS+MQ: 22.7% versus 30.3% (p = 0.0042; ITT). Overall gametocyte prevalence (days 7 to 63; secondary endpoint), measured as person-gametocyte-weeks, was significantly higher for DHA/PQP than AS+MQ (10.15% versus 4.88%; p = 0.003; ITT). Fifteen serious adverse events were reported, 12 (1.6%) in DHA/PQP and three (0.8%) in AS+MQ, among which six (0.8%) were considered related to DHA/PQP and three (0.8%) to AS+MQ. CONCLUSIONS: DHA/PQP was a highly efficacious drug for P. falciparum malaria in areas where multidrug parasites are prevalent. The DHA/PQP combination can play an important role in the first-line treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Controlled-Trials.com ISRCTN81306618.