The pharmacokinetics of a single dose of artemisinin in patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 1997 May;56(5):503-7. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.1997.56.503.


The pharmacokinetics of artemisinin was studied in 11 Vietnamese patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria after a single 500 mg oral dose. Curative treatment with mefloquine (15 mg/kg) was provided 24 hr after the artemisinin dose. Artemisinin concentrations were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection. The following pharmacokinetic results were found (all mean +/- SD); calculated volume of distribution/bioavailability = 22.8 +/- 16.6, mean absorption time = 1.16 +/- 0.92 hr, calculated maximum concentration = 364 +/- 250 micrograms.L-1 occurring at 2.88 +/- 1.71 hr after drug intake, and an elimination half-life of 2.72 +/- 1.76 hr. Bioavailability was low. These results do not differ from results in healthy subjects. Parasites disappeared rapidly, with a mean parasite clearance time of 36 hr. No relationship was found between pharmacokinetics and the parasite elimination rate. Tolerance to the single dose of artemisinin was good. No adverse effects were detected. In conclusion, pharmacokinetics of a single dose of artemisinin for uncomplicated falciparum malaria is not different from findings in healthy subjects. A single dose of 500 mg of artemisinin is effective in reducing parasitemia in nonsevere lalciparum malaria and is well-tolerated.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antimalarials / pharmacokinetics*
  • Artemisinins*
  • Humans
  • Malaria, Falciparum / drug therapy*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / metabolism
  • Sesquiterpenes / pharmacokinetics*


  • Antimalarials
  • Artemisinins
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • artemisinin