Surveillance of the Efficacy of Artesunate and Mefloquine Combination for the Treatment of Uncomplicated Falciparum Malaria in Cambodia

September 2006
Mey Bouth Denis, Reiko Tsuyuoka, Yi Poravuth, Top Sophoan Narann, Suon Seila, Chim Lim, Sandra Incardona, Pharath Lim, Rithy Sem, Duong Socheat, Eva Maria Christophel, Pascal Ringwald

Artesunate and mefloquine combination treatment has been used since 2000 in Cambodia as the first-line drug for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria. In order to assess its efficacy and safety, the national malaria control programme conducted 14 therapeutic efficacy studies with the drug combination between 2001 and 2004 at nine sites. In 2001 and 2002, co-blister packs of artesunate and mefloquine were used, whereas in 2003 and 2004, drugs were given individually from a bulk pack at a total dose of 12 mg/kg of artesunate and 25 mg/kg of mefloquine over 3 days. A total of 1025 patients were enrolled over the 4 years and 977 were follow-up during the period of 28 days. The PCR-corrected cure rates ranged from 85.7% to 100% with an overall cure rate of 95.8% (920/960). The studies in 2002 showed also that co-blister packs used on the basis of age and not on the basis of weight could lead to underdosed regimens but without any detectable effect on the treatment outcome. The follow-up period was extended from 28 to 42 days in three sites in 2004. A total of 219 among 255 were follow-up until day 42. The cure rate decreased but not significantly from 90.1% (73/81) with 28 days follow-up to 79.3% (46/58) with 42 days follow-up in Pailin, whereas the cure rate remained at 100% in the two other sites. Side effects were common, especially dizziness, but were mild and transient and patients recovered without any medical intervention.