Treatment of uncomplicated malaria with artemisinin derivatives. A systematic review of randomised controlled trials.
McIntosh HM., Olliaro P.
This systematic review of randomised or pseudorandomised trials was aimed at summarising the effectiveness and safety of artemisinin drugs for treating uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Ninety-three potentially eligible studies were identified and 38 met the inclusion criteria. Most data are from Southeast Asian areas of mefloquine-resistant falciparum malaria, Thailand in particular. Artemisinin drugs achieve high cure rates at follow-up in all endemic areas represented by the studies included provided that the duration of treatment is adequate. Combination with mefloquine improves sustained parasite clearance and is effective in multidrug resistant areas. Provided the dose of both drugs is adequate, the combination can shorten the duration of treatment. There is no evidence from randomised trials that any artemisinin derivative is better than the others. Data from just over 4,300 patients are included for analysis in this review. Despite the large amount of clinical research that has been done, variation in study design, quality and comparisons make synthesis of the data problematic. It is extremely difficult to draw clear conclusions from the existing database.