Introduction: Neglected tropical diseases control programmes run separately. For settings with more than one endemic disease, combined mass drug administration (MDA) has potential practical advantages compared with separate programmes but needs confirmation of safety. We assessed the safety of combined MDA for multiple neglected tropical diseases using ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine, albendazole (IDA) and azithromycin (AZI).
Methods: We conducted an open-label, cluster-randomized trial involving individuals living in 34 wards (smaller administrative division) in two study sites, Namatanai District and Lihir Island, Papua New Guinea. We randomly assigned wards to the combined treatment arm (which received a single dose of the triple combination IDA and a single dose of AZI at the same visit) or the control arm (which received IDA separately followed by AZI separately one week after). All participants underwent safety assessments one day after drug administration. Methodology for collecting the adverse events (AEs) was a general question (in Namatanai) and individual questions about specific AEs (in Lihir). The primary endpoint was the prevalence of AEs. Safety of combined treatment was taken to be non-inferior to that of IDA if the upper limit of the two-sided CI for the difference in rates was equal or lower than 5%.
Findings: The study enrolled 15,656 participants. Of those enrolled, 7,281 (46.3%) received the combined regimen and 8,375 (53.3%) received standard treatment with IDA for lymphatic filariasis between Nov 1, 2018, and Apr 15, 2019. Of the individuals in the control group, 4,228 (50.5%) attended a second visit one week apart to receive AZI for yaws. In Namatanai, the proportion of AEs was similar in the combined group (0.8%) compared to the IDA group (1.3%, difference 0.5% [95CI -2.5% to 1.4%]) or the AZI group (3.6%, d -2.8% [95CI -8.6% to 2.8%]). In Lihir, the proportion of AEs was higher in the combined group (23.0%) compared to the IDA group (12.2%, d 10.8% [95% CI 1.5% to 20.2%]) or the AZI group (11.1%, d 11.9% [95% CI 2.7% to 21.1%]).We observed 21 (0.3%) grade-2 AEs in the combined treatment group, 33 (0.4%) in the IDA separately group, and 18 (0.2%) in the AZI separately group. No participants required treatment for any AE. We observed no deaths, serious AEs, or AEs of special interest.
Interpretation: In the largest trial so far involving coadministration of regimens based on IDA and AZI, the combination was safe and feasible in a population of more than 15,000 people. Combined MDA based on these two regimens opens up new potential for the control of neglected tropical diseases in the Western Pacific region.
Keywords: co-administration; integration; lymphatic filariasis; mass drug administration; safety; trachoma; yaws.
© 2021 The Authors.