Background: Miltefosine is the only oral drug available for treatment of Indian visceral leishmaniasis (VL), which was shown to have an efficacy of 94% in a phase III trial in the Indian subcontinent. Its unrestricted use has raised concern about its continued effectiveness. This study evaluates the efficacy and safety of miltefosine for the treatment of VL after a decade of use in India.
Methods: An open-label, noncomparative study was performed in which 567 patients received oral miltefosine (50 mg for patients weighing <25 kg, 100 mg in divided doses for those weighing ≥25 kg, and 2.5 mg per kg for those aged <12 years, daily for 28 days) in a directly observed manner. Patients were followed up for 6 months to see the response to therapy.
Results: At the end of treatment the initial cure rate was 97.5% (intention to treat), and 6 months after the end of treatment the final cure rate was 90.3%. The overall death rate was 0.9% (5 of 567), and 2 deaths were related to drug toxicity. Gastrointestinal intolerance was frequent (64.5%). The drug was interrupted in 9 patients (1.5%) because of drug-associated adverse events.
Conclusions: As compared to the phase III trial that led to registration of the drug a decade ago, there is a substantial increase in the failure rate of oral miltefosine for treatment of VL in India.