Background: Delivering drugs in a fixed combination is essential to the success of the strategy of artemisinin-based combination therapy. This prevents one drug being taken without the protection of the other, reducing the chance of emergence and spread of drug resistant strains of Plasmodium falciparum. A lower tablet burden should also facilitate adherence to treatment. A new fixed combination of mefloquine plus artesunate has been developed. This was compared with the conventional regimen of separate tablets for the treatment of uncomplicated multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria.
Methods: On the north-western border of Thailand 500 adults and children with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were randomized to receive either the new fixed combination or separate tablets. They were followed up weekly for 63 days.
Results: The day 63 polymerase chain reaction-adjusted cure rates were 91.9% (95% CI 88.2-95.6) in the fixed combination group and 89.2% (85.0-93.4) in the loose tablets group (P=0.3). There was a lower incidence of early vomiting in the group receiving the fixed combination.
Conclusion: This new fixed combination of mefloquine and artesunate was efficacious, well tolerated and convenient to administer.