Pyronaridine-artesunate (PA) is a registered artemisinin-based combination therapy, potentially useful for mass drug administration campaigns. However, further data are needed to evaluate its efficacy, safety and tolerability as full or incomplete treatment in asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum-infected individuals.
This phase II, multi-center, open label, randomized clinical trial was conducted in The Gambia and Zambia. Participants with microscopically confirmed asymptomatic P. falciparum infection were randomly assigned (1:1:1) to receive a 3-day, 2-day, or 1-day treatment regimen of PA (180:60 mg), dosed according to bodyweight. The primary efficacy outcome was PCR-adjusted adequate parasitological response (APR) at day 28 in the per-protocol population.
A total of 303 participants were randomized. Day 28 PCR-adjusted APR was 100% for both the 3-day (98/98) and 2-day regimens (96/96), and 96.8% (89/94) for the 1-day regimen. Efficacy was maintained at 100% until day 63 for the 3-day and 2-day regimens, but declined to 94.4% (84/89) with the 1-day regimen. Adverse event frequency was similar between the 3-day (51.5% [52/101]), 2-day (52.5% [52/99]), and 1-day (54.4% [56/103]) regimens; the majority of adverse events were of grade 1 or 2 severity (85% [136/160]). Asymptomatic, transient increases (>3xULN) in alanine transaminase/aspartate transaminase were observed for 6/301 (2.0%) participants.
PA had high efficacy and good tolerability in asymptomatic P. falciparum-infected individuals, with similar efficacy for the full 3-day and incomplete 2-day regimens. Although good adherence to the 3-day regimen should be encouraged, these results support the further investigation of PA for mass drug administration campaigns.
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