Chloroquine-Primaquine versus Chloroquine Alone to Treat Vivax Malaria in Afghanistan: An Open Randomized Superiority Trial.
Awab GR., Imwong M., Bancone G., Jeeyapant A., Day NPJ., White NJ., Woodrow CJ.
Afghanistan's national guidelines recommend primaquine (PQ) for radical treatment of Plasmodium vivax malaria, but this is rarely implemented because of concerns over potential hemolysis in patients who have G6PD deficiency. Between August 2009 and February 2014, we conducted an open-label, randomized controlled trial of chloroquine (CQ) alone versus chloroquine plus primaquine (0.25 mg base/kg/day for 14 days) (CQ+PQ) in patients aged 6 months and older with microscopy confirmed P. vivax infection. In the CQ+PQ group, G6PD deficiency was excluded by fluorescent spot testing. The primary outcome was P. vivax recurrence assessed by survival analysis over one year follow-up. Of 593 patients enrolled, 570 attended at or after 14 days of follow-up. Plasmodium vivax recurrences occurred in 37 (13.1%) of 282 patients in the CQ+PQ arm versus 86 (29.9%) of 288 in the CQ arm (Cox proportional hazard ratio [HR] 0.37, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.25-0.54) (intention-to-treat analysis). Protection against recurrence was greater in the first 6 months of follow-up (HR 0.082; 95% CI 0.029-0.23) than later (HR 0.65, 95% CI 0.41-1.03). Five of seven patients requiring hospital admission were considered possible cases of PQ-related hemolysis, and PQ was stopped in a further six; however, in none of these cases did hemoglobin fall by ≥ 2 g/dL or to below 7 g/dL, and genotyping did not detect any cases of Mediterranean variant G6PD deficiency. PQ 0.25 mg/kg/day for 14 days prevents relapse of P. vivax in Afghanistan. Patient visits during the first week may improve adherence. Implementation will require deployment of point-of-care phenotypic tests for G6PD deficiency.