Chloroquine (CQ) is an effective treatment of choice for vivax malaria in most settings, but with the spread of CQ-resistant Plasmodium falciparum, many countries now use artemisinin-based combination therapy for treatment of falciparum malaria. In areas co-endemic for falciparum and vivax malaria incorrect differential diagnosis is always a risk. In Afghanistan the adoption of sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine plus artesunate (SP+AS) as first-line falciparum treatment raises the prospect of a significant proportion of vivax malaria being misdiagnosed and treated with the combination. SP is considered to have limited efficacy against vivax malaria, and the efficacy of SP+AS against Plasmodium vivax has not been established in areas that are using SP+AS. A randomised, non-inferiority trial comparing SP+AS with CQ monotherapy was undertaken on 190 vivax malaria patients in eastern Afghanistan. Standard WHO procedures for in vivo evaluation of antimalarial drugs were followed. A total of 180 individuals completed the trial to day 42. Using a per protocol analysis, both regimens resulted in ≥96% treatment success at 28 d, but significantly more cases failed in the CQ arm (46%) than in the SP+AS arm (24%) by day 42. In areas where vivax infections might be misdiagnosed as falciparum infections and treated with SP+AS, patient management would be as good, or better than, with the standard CQ treatment.
Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (2007) 101 (11) 1081-1087 [doi:10.1016/j.trstmh.2007.06.015]
Sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine plus artesunate compared with chloroquine for the treatment of vivax malaria in areas co-endemic for Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax: a randomised non-inferiority trial in eastern Afghanistan.