Current and emerging medications for the treatment of leishmaniasis

Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2019 Jul;20(10):1251-1265. doi: 10.1080/14656566.2019.1609940. Epub 2019 May 7.


Introduction: Leishmaniasis is a vector-borne neglected tropical disease which manifests as visceral leishmaniasis (VL), cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL), and mucocutaneous leishmaniasis (MCL). The current drugs are toxic, duration of treatment is long, there is regional variation in efficacy, and emergence of resistance is common.

Areas covered: This manuscript is based on literature derived from PubMed and reviews the current and emerging medications for the treatment of leishmaniasis. A single dose of liposomal amphotericin B (L-AmB) and multidrug therapy are the best options for VL in the Indian subcontinent (ISC), while a combination of pentavalent antimonials and paromomycin remains the treatment of choice for VL in Africa where efficacious and safe regimens are needed for HIV-VL coinfection. L-AmB at a total dose of 18-21 mg/kg is the recommended regimen for VL in the Mediterranean region, South America and for HIV-VL coinfection. Treatment of CL varies from observation, local or systemic therapy depending on severity of lesions, etiological species and its potential to develop into mucosal leishmaniasis.

Expert opinion: The monitoring of single-dose L-AmB and combination therapy in the ISC is essential. Effective short-course combination therapy is needed for the treatment of post-kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis and HIV-VL. Better evidence for treatment is still needed along with safer and shorter treatment options for CL and MCL.

Keywords: Visceral leishmaniasis; cutaneous leishmaniasis; mucosal leishmaniasis; treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amphotericin B / administration & dosage
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous / drug therapy*
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / drug therapy*
  • Leprostatic Agents / therapeutic use


  • Antiprotozoal Agents
  • Leprostatic Agents
  • liposomal amphotericin B
  • Amphotericin B