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Comparative clinical trial of four regimens of dihydroartemisinin-mefloquine in multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria

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We conducted a randomized, comparative trial at the Bangkok Hospital for Tropical Diseases during 1996–98 to evaluate the clinical efficacy and tolerability of four combination regimens of dihydroartemisinin-mefloquine. 207 male patients aged 18–25 years, weighing 49.3–55.1 kg were randomized to receive a single oral dose of 300 mg dihydroartemisinin plus one or two doses of mefloquine as follows: regimen I (= 26): 750 mg mefloquine concurrently, or regimen II (= 22): 750 mg mefloquine 24 h later, or regimen III (= 78): 750 and 500 mg mefloquine at 24 and 30 h, or regimen IV (= 81): 750 and 500 mg mefloquine (at 0 and 24 h). All patients improved clinically within 24 h of initiation of treatment. The initial therapeutic response was rapid and identical in all treatment groups (median PCT vs. FCT: 36 vs. 24, 36 vs. 28, 36 vs. 26, and 34 vs. 26 h, for regimen I, II, III and IV, respectively). All combination regimens generally showed acceptable tolerability profiles. Compliance with follow-up (42 days) was achieved by 86.5% (179 cases). Recrudescent parasitaemia was significantly higher in patients treated with low-dose mefloquine combinations (regimens I, II:8/23, 9/16) than in those who received high-dose mefloquine (regimens III, IV: 2/70, 3/70). No RII or RIII type of response was observed. There were no significant differences in susceptibility to mefloquine between primary and recrudescent isolates. Dose-adjusted whole blood mefloquine concentrations were significantly higher in high-dose mefloquine regimens (III and IV). Patients who vomited within the first hour of mefloquine administration had markedly lower whole blood mefloquine concentrations than those who did not vomit.
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Keywords: Plasmodium falciparum; dihydroartemisinin; mefloquine; multidrug resitance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Clinical Pharmacology Unit, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand 2: Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand

Publication date: September 1, 1999

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