Background: Clinical effectiveness of previous regimens to treat Plasmodium vivax infection have been hampered by compliance. We aimed to assess the dose-response, safety, and tolerability of single-dose tafenoquine plus 3-day chloroquine for P vivax malaria radical cure.
Methods: In this double-blind, randomised, dose-ranging phase 2b study, men and women (aged ≥16 years) with microscopically confirmed P vivax monoinfection (parasite density >100 to <100,000 per μL blood) were enrolled from community health centres and hospitals across seven sites in Brazil, Peru, India, and Thailand. Patients with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase enzyme activity of less than 70% were excluded. Eligible patients received chloroquine (days 1-3) and were randomly assigned (1:1:1:1:1:1) by a computer-generated randomisation schedule to receive single-dose tafenoquine 50 mg, 100 mg, 300 mg, or 600 mg, primaquine 15 mg for 14 days, or chloroquine alone. Randomisation was stratified by baseline parasite count (≤7500 and >7500 per μL blood). The primary efficacy endpoint was relapse-free efficacy at 6 months from initial dose (ie, clearance of initial infection without subsequent microscopically confirmed infection), analysed by intention to treat. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01376167.
Findings: Between Sept 19, 2011, and March 25, 2013, 329 patients were randomly assigned to a treatment group (chloroquine plus tafenoquine 50 mg [n=55], 100 mg [n=57], 300 mg [n=57], 600 mg [n=56]; or to chloroquine plus primaquine [n=50]; or chloroquine alone [n=54]). Relapse-free efficacy at 6 months was 57·7% (95% CI 43-70) with tafenoquine 50 mg, 54·1% (40-66) with tafenoquine 100 mg, 89·2% (77-95) with tafenoquine 300 mg, 91·9% (80-97) with tafenoquine 600 mg, 77·3% (63-87) with primaquine, and 37·5% (23-52) with chloroquine alone. Tafenoquine 300 mg and 600 mg had better efficacy than chloroquine alone (treatment differences 51·7% [95% CI 35-69], p<0·0001, with tafenoquine 300 mg and 54·5% [38-71], p<0·0001, with tafenoquine 600 mg), as did primaquine (treatment difference 39·9% [21-59], p=0·0004). Adverse events were similar between treatments. 29 serious adverse events occurred in 26 (8%) of 329 patients; QT prolongation was the most common serious adverse event (11 [3%] of 329), occurring in five (2%) of 225 patients receiving tafenoquine, four (8%) of 50 patients receiving primaquine, and two (4%) of 54 patients receiving chloroquine alone, with no evidence of an additional effect on QT of chloroquine plus tafenoquine coadministration.
Interpretation: Single-dose tafenoquine 300 mg coadministered with chloroquine for P vivax malaria relapse prevention was more efficacious than chloroquine alone, with a similar safety profile. As a result, it has been selected for further clinical assessment in phase 3.
Funding: GlaxoSmithKline, Medicines for Malaria Venture.
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