Background: New antimalarials are needed for Plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum malaria. This study compared the efficacy and safety of pyronaridine-artesunate with those of chloroquine for the treatment of uncomplicated P. vivax malaria. Methods and Findings: This phase III randomized, double-blind, non-inferiority trial included five centres across Cambodia, Thailand, India, and Indonesia. In a double-dummy design, patients (aged from 3 to more than 60 years) with microscopically confirmed P. vivax mono-infection were randomized (1:1) to receive pyronaridine-artesunate (target dose 7.2:2.4 mg/kg to 13.8:4.6 mg/ kg) or chloroquine (standard dose) once daily for three days. Each treatment group included 228 randomized patients. Outcomes for the primary endpoint, Day-14 cure rate in the per-protocol population, were 99.5%, (217/218; 95%CI 97.5, 100) with pyronaridine-artesunate and 100% (209/209; 95%CI 98.3, 100) with chloroquine. Pyronaridine was non-inferior to chloroquine: treatment difference -0.5% (95%CI -2.6, 1.4), i.e., the lower limit of the 2-sided 95%CI for the treatment difference was greater than -10%. Pyronaridine-artesunate cure rates were non-inferior to chloroquine for Days 21, 28, 35 and 42. Parasite clearance time was shorter with pyronaridine-artesunate (median 23.0 h) versus chloroquine (32.0 h; pP. falciparum infection incidence until Day 42 were 2.5% with pyronaridine-artesunate, and 6.1% with chloroquine (p = 0.048, log-rank test). Post-baseline P. vivax or P. falciparum infection incidence until Day 42 was 6.8% and 12.4%, respectively (p = 0.022, log rank test). There were no deaths. Adverse events occurred in 92/228 (40.4%) patients with pyronaridine-artesunate and 72/228 (31.6%) with chloroquine. Mild and transient increases in hepatic enzymes were observed for pyronaridine-artesunate. Conclusion: Pyronaridine-artesunate efficacy in acute uncomplicated P. vivax malaria was at least that of chloroquine. As pyronaridine-artesunate is also efficacious against P. falciparum malaria, this combination has potential utility as a global antimalarial drug.
PLoS ONE (2011) 6(1) e14501 [doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014501]