Background: Improved treatment approaches are needed for visceral leishmaniasis. We assessed the efficacy and safety of three potential short-course combination treatments compared with the standard monotherapy in India.
Methods: Standard treatment (1 mg/kg amphotericin B infusion on alternate days for 30 days, total dose 15 mg/kg) was compared with three drug combinations (single injection of 5 mg/kg liposomal amphotericin B and 7-day 50 mg oral miltefosine or single 10-day 11 mg/kg intramuscular paromomycin; or 10 days each of miltefosine and paromomycin) in an open-label, parallel-group, non-inferiority, randomised controlled trial in two hospital sites in Bihar, India. Patients aged 5-60 years with parasitologically confirmed visceral leishmaniasis were randomly assigned one of the four treatments by the trial statistician by use of a computer-generated list. Clinical assessments were done at the end of treatment (15 days on combination treatment; 31 days for standard treatment) and after 45 days and 6 months. The primary endpoint was definitive cure (defined as no sign or symptom of visceral leishmaniasis and parasitologically cured to the last follow-up). Analyses were done both by intention to treat and per protocol. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00696969.
Findings: Between June, 2008, and July, 2009, 634 patients were assigned amphotericin B (n=157), liposomal amphotericin B with miltefosine (n=160) or paromomycin (n=158), or miltefosine and paromomycin (n=159). 618 patients were in the per-protocol population. There were two relapses in each group. The numbers with definitive cure at 6 months for the intention-to-treat population were 146 (cure rate 93·0%; CI 87·5-96·3) for amphotericin B, 156 (97·5%; 93·3-99·2) for liposomal amphotericin B and miltefosine, 154 (97·5%; 93·24-99·2) for liposomal amphotericin B and paromomycin, and 157 (98·7%; 95·1-99·8) for miltefosine and paromomycin. All combinations were non-inferior to the standard treatment, in both the intention-to-treat and per-protocol populations. Patients in the combination groups had fewer adverse events than did those assigned standard treatment.
Interpretation: Combination treatments for visceral leishmaniasis are efficacious and safe, and decrease the duration of therapy, thereby encouraging adherence and reducing emergence of drug-resistant parasites.
Funding: Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative and the Indian Council of Medical Research.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.