BACKGROUND: Artemether-lumefantrine (AL) was introduced for treatment of uncomplicated malaria in Guinea-Bissau in 2008. Malaria then resurged and recurrent malaria after treatment with AL and stock-outs of AL were common. This study therefore aimed to assess the efficacy of AL and identify an alternative second line antimalarial. Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) was chosen as it has been shown to be safe and efficacious and to reduce the incidence of recurrent malaria.
METHODS AND FINDINGS: In a multicentre randomised open-label non-inferiority clinical trial, AL or DP were given over 3 days to children aged 6 months-15 years with uncomplicated P. falciparum mono-infection. Intake was observed and AL was given with milk. Children were seen on days 0, 1, 2 and 3 and then weekly days 7-42. Recurring P. falciparum were classified as recrudescence or new infections by genotyping. Between November 2012 and July 2015, 312 children were randomised to AL (n = 155) or DP (n = 157). The day 42 PCR adjusted per protocol adequate clinical and parasitological responses were 95% and 100% in the AL and DP groups respectively, Mantel-Haenszel weighted odds ratio (OR) 0.22 (95% CI 0-0.68), p = 0.022. In a modified intention to treat analysis in which treatment failures day 0 and reinfections were also considered as treatment failures adequate clinical and parasitological responses were 94% and 97% (OR 0.42 [95% CI, 0.13-1.38], p = 0.15). Parasite clearance and symptom resolution were similar with both treatments.
CONCLUSIONS: Both treatments achieved the WHO recommended efficacy for antimalarials about to be adopted as policy. DP was not inferior to AL for treatment of uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in Guinea-Bissau.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NTC01704508.