Background: Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a major public health problem in Bihar, accounting for 90% of all cases in India. Development of high levels of resistance to various existing drugs necessitated the search for alternative orally administered drugs. Hospital-based studies have shown that oral miltefosine is a highly effective treatment for VL both in adults and in children.
Methods: An open, single-arm trial was designed to investigate the feasibility of treatment of VL patients with miltefosine in field conditions in 13 centers in Bihar.
Results: The phase 4 study was conducted among 1132 adult and pediatric VL patients. Compliance was good, with 1084 (95.5%) patients completing the full 28-day treatment course. Nine hundred and seventy-one (85.8%) patients returned for the final cure assessment at 6 months after treatment. The final cure rate was 82% by intention to treat analysis and 95% by per protocol analysis (similar to the 94% cure rate in hospitalized patients). Treatment-related adverse events of common toxicity criteria grade 3 occurred in ~3% of patients, including gastrointestinal toxicity and rise in aspertate amino transferase, alanine amino transferase, or serum creatinine levels, similar to previous clinical experience.
Conclusion: This study supports the use of miltefosine in an outpatient setting in an area where VL is endemic.