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      Artesunate versus quinine for treatment of severe falciparum malaria: a randomised trial

      The Lancet

      Elsevier BV

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          Abstract

          In the treatment of severe malaria, intravenous artesunate is more rapidly acting than intravenous quinine in terms of parasite clearance, is safer, and is simpler to administer, but whether it can reduce mortality is uncertain. We did an open-label randomised controlled trial in patients admitted to hospital with severe falciparum malaria in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Myanmar. We assigned individuals intravenous artesunate 2.4 mg/kg bodyweight given as a bolus (n=730) at 0, 12, and 24 h, and then daily, or intravenous quinine (20 mg salt per kg loading dose infused over 4 h then 10 mg/kg infused over 2-8 h three times a day; n=731). Oral medication was substituted when possible to complete treatment. Our primary endpoint was death from severe malaria, and analysis was by intention to treat. We assessed all patients randomised for the primary endpoint. Mortality in artesunate recipients was 15% (107 of 730) compared with 22% (164 of 731) in quinine recipients; an absolute reduction of 34.7% (95% CI 18.5-47.6%; p=0.0002). Treatment with artesunate was well tolerated, whereas quinine was associated with hypoglycaemia (relative risk 3.2, 1.3-7.8; p=0.009). Artesunate should become the treatment of choice for severe falciparum malaria in adults.

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          Most cited references 38

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          A controlled trial of artemether or quinine in Vietnamese adults with severe falciparum malaria.

           Loan Tran,  T. Peto,  Long Ly (1996)
          Artemisinin (qinghaosu) and its derivatives are rapidly effective antimalarial drugs derived from a Chinese plant. Preliminary studies suggest that these drugs may be more effective than quinine in the treatment of severe malaria. We studied artemether in Vietnam, where Plasmodium falciparum has reduced sensitivity to quinine. We conducted a randomized, double-blind trial in 560 adults with severe falciparum malaria. Two hundred seventy-six received intramuscular quinine dihydrochloride (20 mg per kilogram of body weight followed by 10 mg per kilogram every eight hours), and 284 received intramuscular artemether (4 mg per kilogram followed by 2 mg per kilogram every eight hours). Both drugs were given for a minimum of 72 hours. There were 36 deaths in the artemether group (13 percent) and 47 in the quinine group (17 percent; P = 0.16; relative risk of death in the patients given artemether, 0.74; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.5 to 1.11). The parasites were cleared more quickly from the blood in the artemether group (mean, 72 vs. 90 hours; P < 0.001); however, in this group fever resolved more slowly (127 vs. 90 hours, P < 0.001), the time to recovery from coma was longer (66 vs. 48 hours, P = 0.003), and the hospitalization was longer (288 vs. 240 hours, P = 0.005). Quinine treatment was associated with a higher risk of hypoglycemia (relative risk, 2.7; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.7 to 4.4; P < 0.001), but there were no other serious side effects in either group. Artemether is a satisfactory alternative to quinine for the treatment of severe malaria in adults.
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            The treatment of malaria.

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              Central role of the spleen in malaria parasite clearance.

              In acute malaria, red blood cells (RBCs) that have been parasitized, but no longer contain a malaria parasite, are found in the circulation (ring-infected erythrocyte surface antigen [RESA]-RBCs). These are thought to arise by splenic removal of dead or damaged intraerythrocytic parasites and return of the intact RBCs to the circulation. In a study of 5 patients with acute falciparum malaria who had previously undergone splenectomy, it was found that none of these 5 patients had any circulating RESA-RBCs, in contrast to the uniform finding of RESA-RBCs in all patients with acute malaria and intact spleens. Parasite clearance after artesunate treatment was markedly prolonged, although the parasites appeared to be dead and could not be cultured ex vivo. These observations confirm the central role of the spleen in the clearance of parasitized RBCs after antimalarial treatment with an artemisinin derivative. Current criteria for high-grade antimalarial drug resistance that are based on changes in parasitemia are not appropriate for asplenic patients.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                The Lancet
                The Lancet
                Elsevier BV
                01406736
                August 2005
                August 2005
                : 366
                : 9487
                : 717-725
                Article
                10.1016/S0140-6736(05)67176-0
                16125588
                © 2005

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