Expert perspectives on the introduction of Triple Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (TACTs) in Southeast Asia: a Delphi study.
de Haan F., Boon WPC., Amaratunga C., Dondorp AM.
BackgroundTriple Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (TACTs) are being developed as a response to artemisinin and partner drug resistance in Southeast Asia. However, the desirability, timing and practical feasibility of introducing TACTs in Southeast Asia is subject to debate. This study systematically assesses perspectives of malaria experts towards the introduction of TACTs as first-line treatment for uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Southeast Asia.MethodsA two-round Delphi study was conducted. In the first round, 53 malaria experts answered open-ended questions on what they consider the most important advantages, disadvantages, and implementation barriers for introducing TACTs in Southeast Asia. In the second round, the expert panel rated the relevance of each statement on a 5-point Likert scale.ResultsMalaria experts identified 15 advantages, 15 disadvantages and 13 implementation barriers for introducing TACTs in Southeast Asia in the first round of data collection. In the second round, consensus was reached on 13 advantages (8 perceived as relevant, 5 as not-relevant), 12 disadvantages (10 relevant, 2 not-relevant), and 13 implementation barriers (all relevant). Advantages attributed highest relevance related to the clinical and epidemiological rationale of introducing TACTs. Disadvantages attributed highest relevance related to increased side-effects, unavailability of fixed-dose TACTs, and potential cost increases. Implementation barriers attributed highest relevance related to obtaining timely regulatory approval, timely availability of fixed-dose TACTs, and generating global policy support for introducing TACTs.ConclusionsThe study provides a structured oversight of malaria experts' perceptions on the major advantages, disadvantages and implementation challenges for introducing TACTs in Southeast Asia, over current practices of rotating ACTs when treatment failure is observed. The findings can benefit strategic decision making in the battle against drug-resistant malaria.