Artemisinin-Combination Therapy Versus Chloroquine for The Treatment of Plasmodium Malariae in Sabah, Malaysia: A Randomized Controlled Trial

M. J. Grigg, T. William, B. E. Barber, G. S. Rajahram, J. Menon, C. S. Wilkes, K. Patel, A. Chandna, T. W. Yeo, N. M. Anstey

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstract


Background: Human infection with Plasmodium malariae is uncommon but remains present in the Asia-Pacific region, Africa and South America, and can cause severe anaemia. There have been no previous randomised trials to evaluate the optimal treatment for uncomplicated malaria due to P. malariae.

Methods: An open-label, randomised controlled trial was conducted at three district hospitals in Sabah, Malaysia. Patients aged 1 year or older with uncomplicated P. malariae on screening microscopy were randomly assigned to receive oral artesunate–mefloquine (ASMQ; target dose 12 mg/kg artesunate and 25 mg/kg mefloquine) or chloroquine (CQ; target dose 25 mg/kg). The primary endpoint was parasite clearance at 24 h. Analysis was by modified intention to treat. Secondary analysis 471astmh.orgincorporated additional patients separately randomised to artemether-lumefantrine (AL) or CQ.

Findings: Between Jan 14, 2013, and Sep 20, 2014, admitted patients with PCR-confirmed P. malariae infection were allocated treatment with either ASMQ (n=6) or CQ (n=4). 24 h after treatment, we recorded parasite clearance in 3 (50% [95% CI 12-88]) of 6 patients in the ASMQ group versus none (0% [45–64]) of 4 patients in the CQ group (p=0.091). At 48 hours all ASMQ treated patients were negative for parasites versus none in the CQ arm (p=0.002), with this difference remaining at 72 hours with only 1 patient (25% [0-81]) in the CQ arm demonstrating parasite clearance (p=0.011). Fever clearance appeared faster in the ASMQ arm (median 6 hours [0-18]) versus 18.8 (3.8-42) following CQ (p=0.319). 1 patient in the ASMQ arm developed anaemia at day 28 during follow-up compared to none in the CQ arm (p=0.389). All patients had an adequate clinical and parasitological response to treatment at day 28 of follow-up. There were no serious adverse events due to either study medication. Results were consistent with the larger secondary analysis of patients treated with either ASMQ or AL (n=10) vs CQ (n=10).

Interpretation: Artesunate–mefloquine demonstrated a rapid therapeutic response for P. malariae malaria, supporting a unified ACT treatment policy for for all Plasmodium species in co-endemic areas.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1501
Pages (from-to)470-471
Number of pages2
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue numberSuppl. 5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017
Event65th Annual Meeting of the American-Society-of-Tropical-Medicine-and-Hygiene (ASTMH) - Atlanta, United States
Duration: 13 Nov 201616 Nov 2016


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