Racemic mefloquine is a highly effective antimalarial whose clinical utility has been compromised by its association with neuropsychiatric and gastrointestinal side effects. It is hypothesized that the cause of the side effects may reside in the (-) enantiomer. We sought to compare the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetic profile of (+)-mefloquine with racemic mefloquine in a randomized, ascending-dose, double-blind, active and placebo-controlled, parallel cohort study in healthy male and female adult volunteers. Although the manifestations were different, both study drugs displayed a substantially worse tolerability profile compared with placebo. The systemic clearance was slower for (-)-mefloquine than (+)-mefloquine. Thus, (+)-mefloquine has a different safety and tolerability profile compared with racemic mefloquine but its overall safety profile is not superior and replacement of the currently used antimalarial drug with (+)-mefloquine is not warranted.
American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (2010) 83 (6) 1195-1201 [doi:10.4269/ajtmh.2010.10-0228]
A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study to Investigate the Safety, Tolerability, and Pharmacokinetics of Single Enantiomer (+)-Mefloquine Compared with Racemic Mefloquine in Healthy Persons