Randomized, multicentre assessment of the efficacy and safety of ASAQ – a fixed-dose artesunate-amodiaquine combination therapy in the treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria
1 Department of Parasitology, Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal
2 Unité de Recherche sur le Paludisme, Institut Pasteur de Madagascar, Antananarivo, Madagascar
3 Malaria Research and Training Center, Department of Epidemiology of Parasitic Diseases, Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacy and Odonto-Stomatology, University of Bamako, Bamako, Mali
4 Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Dakar, Senegal
5 Faculté de Médecine et des Sciences Biomédicales, Centre Hospitalo-Universitaire Yaounde, Cameroon
6 Access to Medicines, sanofi-aventis, Paris, France
Malaria Journal 2009, 8:125 doi:10.1186/1475-2875-8-125Published: 8 June 2009
The use of artemisinin derivative-based combination therapy (ACT) such as artesunate plus amodiaquine is currently recommended for the treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Fixed-dose combinations are more adapted to patients than regimens involving multiple tablets and improve treatment compliance. A fixed-dose combination of artesunate + amodiaquine (ASAQ) was recently developed. To assess the efficacy and safety of this new combination and to define its optimum dosage regimen (once or twice daily) in the treatment of uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria, a multicentre clinical study was conducted.
A multicentre, randomized, controlled, investigator-blinded, parallel-group study was conducted in five African centers in Cameroon, Madagascar, Mali and Senegal from March to December 2006. Efficacy and safety of ASAQ were assessed compared to those of artemether + lumefantrine (AL). The WHO protocol with a 28-day follow-up for assessing the drug therapeutic efficacy was used. Patients suffering from uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria were randomized to receive ASAQ orally once daily (ASAQ1), ASAQ twice daily (ASAQ2) or AL twice daily (AL) for three days. The primary outcome was PCR-corrected parasitological cure rate and clinical response.
Of 941 patients initially randomized and stratified into two age groups (<5 years, and ≥5 years), 936 (99.5%) were retained for the intent to treat (ITT) analysis, and 859 (91.3%) patients for the per protocol (PP) analysis. Among ITT population, up to D28, PCR-corrected adequate parasitological and clinical response rates were 95.2% in the ASAQ1 group, 94.9% in the ASAQ2 group and 95.5% in the AL group. Moreover, the cure rate evaluated among PP population was ≥98.5% in both ASAQ therapeutic arms. Therapeutic response rates did not display any significant differences between age groups or between one geographical site and another. Altogether, this demonstrates the non-inferiority of ASAQ1 regimen compared to both ASAQ2 and AL regimens. During follow-up mild and moderate adverse events including gastrointestinal and/or nervous disorders were reported in 29.3% of patients, with no difference between groups in the nature, frequency or intensity of adverse events.
The non-inferiority of ASAQ compared with AL was demonstrated. The fixed-dose combination artesunate + amodiaquine (ASAQ) is safe and efficacious even in young children under 5 years of age. Whilst administration on a twice-a-day basis does not improve the efficacy of ASAQ significantly, a once-a-day intake of this new combination clearly appears as an effective and safe therapy in the treatment of uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria both in adults and children. Implications of such findings are of primary importance in terms of public health especially in African countries. As most national policies plan to strengthen malaria control to reach the elimination of this disease, anti-malarial drugs such as the artesunate + amodiaquine fixed-dose ACT will play a pivotal role in this process.
The protocol was registered with the www.clinicaltrials.gov open clinical trial registry under the identifier number NCT00316329.