• Supervised versus unsupervised antimalarial treatment with six-dose artemether-lumefantrine: pharmacokinetic and dosage-related findings from a clinical trial in Uganda.

      Checchi, F; Piola, P; Fogg, C; Bajunirwe, F; Biraro, S; Grandesso, F; Ruzagira, E; Babigumira, J; Kigozi, I; Kiguli, J; et al. (BioMed Central, 2006)
      BACKGROUND: A six-dose antimalarial regimen of artemether-lumefantrine (A/L) may soon become one of the most widely used drug combination in Africa, despite possible constraints with adherence and poor absorption due to inadequate nutrition, and a lack of pharmacokinetic and effectiveness data. METHODS: Within a trial of supervised versus unsupervised A/L treatment in a stable Ugandan Plasmodium falciparum transmission setting, plasma lumefantrine concentrations were measured in a subset of patients on day 3 (C [lum]day3) and day 7 (C [lum]day7) post-inclusion. Predictors of lumefantrine concentrations were analysed to show how both C [lum]day7 and the weight-adjusted lumefantrine dose affect 28-day recrudescence and re-infection risks. The implications of these novel findings are discussed in terms of the emergence of lumefantrine-resistant strains in Africa. RESULTS: C [lum]day3 and C [lum]day7 distributions among 241 supervised and 238 unsupervised patients were positively skewed. Unsupervised treatment and decreasing weight-adjusted lumefantrine dose were negatively associated with C [lum]day3. Unsupervised treatment and decreasing age showed strong negative associations with C [lum]day7. Both models were poorly predictive (R-squared < 0.25). There were no recrudescences in either arm, but decreasing lumefantrine dose per Kg resulted in up to 13-fold higher adjusted risks of re-infection. Re-infections occurred only among patients with C [lum]day7 below 400 ng/mL (p < 0.001). CONCLUSION: Maintaining the present six-dose regimen and ensuring high adherence and intake are essential to maximize the public health benefits of this valuable drug combination.
    • Supervised versus unsupervised intake of six-dose artemether-lumefantrine for treatment of acute, uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Mbarara, Uganda: a randomised trial.

      Piola, P; Fogg, C; Bajunirwe, F; Biraro, S; Grandesso, F; Ruzagira, E; Babigumira, J; Kigozi, I; Kiguli, J; Kyomuhendo, J; et al. (Elsevier, 2005-04-23)
      BACKGROUND: The six-dose regimen of artemether-lumefantrine is effective and is among combination therapies prioritised to replace antimalarials that no longer work in Africa. However, its effectiveness has not been assessed in the field, and could be compromised by poor adherence, incorrect timing of doses, and insufficient intake of fatty foods with every dose. Our aim, therefore, was to assess the effectiveness of artemether-lumefantrine prescribed under routine outpatient conditions, compared with its efficacy when given under supervision to inpatients with acute uncomplicated falciparum malaria. METHODS: We did a randomised trial to compare the efficacy, safety, and pharmacokinetics of artemether-lumefantrine when given in a supervised (all doses observed with fatty-food intake; n=313) or unsupervised (first dose supervised followed by outpatient treatment with nutritional advice; n=644) setting to patients of all ages (weight >10 kg) with acute, uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Mbarara, Uganda. Our primary endpoint was 28 day, PCR-adjusted, parasitological cure rate. Analysis was by intention to treat and evaluability analysis. FINDINGS: 38 patients were lost to follow-up and one withdrew consent. Day-28 cure rates were 97.7% (296 of 303) and 98.0% (603 of 615) in the supervised and unsupervised groups, respectively. We recorded 15 non-severe, drug-related adverse events, all of which resolved. INTERPRETATION: Artemether-lumefantrine has a high cure rate irrespective of whether given under supervision with food or under conditions of routine clinic practice. If used as first-line treatment, artemether-lumefantrine could make a substantial contribution to malaria control in Africa, though cost is an issue.