Safety and efficacy of primaquine against repeated attacks of Plasmodium vivax depends upon co-administered blood schizontocidal therapy in radical cure. We assessed primaquine (PQ) as hypnozoitocide when administered with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (Eurartesim®, DHA-PP) or artesunate-pyronaridine (Pyramax®, AS-PYR) to affirm its good tolerability and efficacy. A third arm, artesunate followed by primaquine, was not intended as therapy for practice, but addressed a hypothesis concerning primaquine efficacy without co-administration of blood schizontocide.
During March to July 2013, an open-label, randomized trial enrolled Indonesian soldiers with vivax malaria at Sragen, Central Java, after six months duty in malarious Papua, Indonesia. No malaria transmission occurred at the study site and P. vivax recurrences in the 12 months following therapy were classified as relapses. A historic relapse control derived from a cohort of soldiers who served in the same area of Papua was applied to estimate risk of relapse among randomized treatment groups. Those were: 1) AS followed 2d later by PQ (0.5 mg/kg daily for 14d); 2) co-formulated AS-PYR concurrent with the same regimen of PQ; or 3) co-formulated DHA-PP concurrent with the same regimen of PQ.
Among 532 soldiers, 219 had vivax malaria during the four months following repatriation to Java; 180 of these were otherwise healthy and G6PD-normal and enrolled in the trial. Subjects in all treatment groups tolerated the therapies well without untoward events and cleared parasitemia within three days. First relapse appeared at day 39 post-enrollment, and the last at day 270. Therapeutic efficacy of PQ against relapse by incidence density analysis was 92 % (95 %CI = 83-97 %), 94 %(95 %CI = 86-97 %), and 95 %(95 %CI = 88-98 %) when combined with AS, AS-PYR, or DHA-PP, respectively.
This trial offers evidence of good tolerability and efficacy of PQ against P. vivax relapse when administered concurrently with DHA-PP or AS-PYR. These offer alternative partner drugs for radical cure with primaquine. The AS arm demonstrated efficacy with a total dose of 7 mg/kg PQ without concurrently administered blood schizontocide, another option when primaquine therapy is removed in time from the treatment of the acute malaria or applied presumptively without an attack.