Aims: To evaluate whether the potent CYP3A4 inhibitor ketoconazole has any influence on the pharmacokinetic and electrocardiographic parameters of the antimalarial co-artemether (artemether-lumefantrine) in healthy subjects.
Methods: Sixteen subjects were randomized in an open-label, two period crossover design study. Subjects received a single dose of co-artemether (day 1) either alone or in combination with multiple oral doses of ketoconazole (400 mg on day 1 followed by 200 mg o.d. for 4 additional days). Serial blood samples were taken and assayed for artemether and its main active metabolite dihydroartemisinin (DHA), and lumefantrine.
Results: The pharmacokinetics of artemether, its metabolite DHA, and lumefantrine were influenced by the presence of ketoconazole. AUC(0, infinity ) was increased from 320 to 740 ng ml-1 h (ratio 2.4, 90% CI 2.00, 2.86) for artemether, from 331 to 501 ng ml-1 h (ratio 1.7, 90% CI 1.40, 1.98) for DHA, and from 207 to 333 micro g ml-1 h (ratio 1.7, 90% CI 1.23, 2.21) for lumefantrine in the presence of ketoconazole. Cmax also increased in similar proportions for the three compounds (ratio 2.2 (90% CI 1.78, 2.83), 1.4 (90% CI 1.12, 1.74), and 1.3 (90% CI 0.96, 1.64), respectively). The terminal elimination half-life was increased for artemether (2.5 vs 1.9 h, 90% CI 1.12, 1.72) and DHA (3.1 vs 2.1 h, 90% CI 0.02, 3.36), but remained unchanged for lumefantrine (88 vs 95 h, 90% CI 0.81, 1.04). These increases in exposure to the antimalarial combination were much smaller than observed with food intake (up to 16 fold), and were not associated with increased side-effects or changes in electrocardiographic parameters. The study medications were well tolerated.
Conclusions: The concurrent administration of ketoconazole with co-artemether led to modest increases in artemether, DHA, and lumefantrine exposure in healthy subjects. Dose adjustment of co-artemether is probably unnecessary in falciparum malaria patients when administered in association with ketoconazole or other potent CYP3A4 inhibitors.