A randomized trial of amodiaquine and artesunate alone and in combination for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria in children from Burkina Faso
Combining artesunate (AR) with existing antimalarial drugs may improve cure rates, delay emergence of resistance and reduce parasite clearance time. In order to investigate the latter, we conducted a randomized clinical trial testing the AR plus amodiaquine (AQ) combination for the treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Burkina Faso. Children aged 1–15 years were randomly assigned to either AQ (10 mg/kg) or AR (4 mg/kg first day then half dose) or AQ + AR (AQAR) as a single daily dose under supervision for three consecutive days for all groups. Follow-up lasted 28 days. Primary endpoints were parasite and fever clearance time. Eighty-seven children were evaluated: 27 received AQ, 27 AR and 33 AQAR. Using an intention to treat analysis, fever clearance time was similar in the three groups. However, it was significantly faster in the AR (1.21 days; P = 0.02) and AQAR groups (1.19 days; P < 0.01) than in the AQ group (1.46 days) when excluding other concomitant causes of fever. Parasite clearance time was faster in AR (1.13 days; P = 0.008) and AQAR groups (1.13 days; P < 0.01) than in the AQ group (1.6 days). All children cleared their parasites by day 14, including the child with Late Parasitological Failure (LPF) at day 7 after rescue treatment. Only one child (4%) from the AR group and one (4%) from the AQ group presented with asymptomatic parasitaemia at day 7 and day 21, respectively (LPF). Gametocyte carriage was not detectable in any group during follow-up nor was any adverse reaction observed. While resistance to first-line treatment (chloroquine) is already established in the country, AQ and AR used alone or in combination therapy proved highly efficacious in our study. Burkina Faso stands in a very good situation for an internationally recommended switch to AR-containing combination as first-line treatment for uncomplicated malaria. Including AQ in this regimen seems the best option.