Objectives: To compare the efficacy and tolerability of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DHA-PQP) with that of a 3-day regimen of mefloquine and artesunate (MAS3) for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Cambodia.
Method: Randomized open-label non-inferiority study over 64 days.
Results: Four hundred and sixty-four patients were included in the study. The polymerase chain reaction genotyping-adjusted cure rates on day 63 were 97.5% (95% confidence interval, CI, 93.8-99.3) for DHA-PQP and 97.5% (95% CI, 93.8-99.3) for MAS3, P = 1. There were no serious adverse events, but significantly more episodes of vomiting (P = 0.03), dizziness (P = 0.002), palpitations (P = 0.04), and sleep disorders (P = 0.03) reported in the MAS3 treatment group, consistent with the side-effect profile of mefloquine.
Conclusions: DHA-PQP was as efficacious as MAS3, but much better tolerated, making it more appropriate for use in a routine programme setting. This highly efficacious, safe and more affordable fixed-dose combination could become the treatment of choice for Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Cambodia.