Objective: To compare the parasitological and clinical efficacy of four weeks versus two weeks of treatment with aminosidine (paromomycin) ointment in patients with cutaneous leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania major in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Methods: Double-blind, randomized trial of four weeks of aminosidine ointment (n = 108) vs two weeks of aminosidine ointment and two weeks of placebo (n = 108). Patients were assessed on days 15, 29, 45, and 105 for clinical cures and clinical and parasitological cures.
Findings: Four weeks' treatment gave significantly better cure rates than two weeks' treatment: on day 29, there were 80/108 (74%) vs 64/108 (59%) clinical cures (P = 0.05) and 47 (44%) vs 26 (24%) clinical and parasitological cures (P = 0.005). By day 45, fewer patients who received four weeks' treatment had required rescue treatment with antimonials than those who received two weeks' treatment: 20 (19%) vs 36 (33%) (P = 0.02). On day 105, the results still favoured those who had been allocated four weeks of active treatment, but the differences were no longer as clearly significant. No side-effects were observed or reported.
Conclusion: Approximately two-thirds of patients given ointment for four weeks were cured clinically. Although about half of those cured might have recovered spontaneously even without treatment, four weeks of aminosidine ointment could become the first-line treatment for uncomplicated cutaneous leishmaniasis due to L. major, with antimonials needed in only the one-third of patients not cured by the end of treatment with aminosidine. This would considerably reduce the costs and side-effects associated with antimonial drugs.