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Atovaquone‐proguanil for treating uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria

Blanshard, Andrew and Hine, Paul (2021) 'Atovaquone‐proguanil for treating uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria'. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Vol 2021, Issue 1, CD004529.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015 stated atovaquone‐proguanil can be used in travellers, and is an option in malaria‐endemic areas in combination with artesunate, as an alternative treatment where first‐line artemisinin‐based combination therapy (ACT) is not available or effective. This review is an update of a Cochrane Review undertaken in 2005.

To assess the efficacy and safety of atovaquone‐proguanil (alone and in combination with artemisinin drugs) versus other antimalarial drugs for treating uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in adults and children.

Search methods
The date of the last trial search was 30 January 2020. Search locations for published trials included the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group Specialized Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, and LILACS. To include recently published and unpublished trials, we also searched, the metaRegister of Controlled Trials and the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform Search Portal.

Selection criteria
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) reporting efficacy and safety data for atovaquone‐proguanil or atovaquone‐proguanil with a partner drug compared with at least one other antimalarial drug for treating uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum infection.

Data collection and analysis
For this update, two review authors re‐extracted data and assessed certainty of evidence. We meta‐analyzed data to calculate risk ratios (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) for treatment failures between comparisons, and for safety outcomes between and across comparisons. Outcome measures include unadjusted treatment failures and polymerase chain reaction (PCR)‐adjusted treatment failures. PCR adjustment differentiates new infection from recrudescent infection.

Main results
Seventeen RCTs met our inclusion criteria providing 4763 adults and children from Africa, South‐America, and South‐East Asia. Eight trials reported PCR‐adjusted data to distinguish between new and recrudescent infection during the follow‐up period. In this abstract, we report only the comparisons against the three WHO‐recommended antimalarials which were included within these trials.

There were two comparisons with artemether‐lumefantrine, one trial from 2008 in Ethiopia with 60 participants had two failures with atovaquone‐proguanil compared to none with artemether‐lumefantrine (PCR‐adjusted treatment failures at day 28). A second trial from 2012 in Colombia with 208 participants had one failure in each arm (PCR‐adjusted treatment failures at day 42).

There was only one comparison with artesunate‐amodiaquine from a 2014 trial conducted in Cameroon. There were six failures with atovaquone‐proguanil at day 28 and two with artesunate‐amodiaquine (PCR‐adjusted treatment failures at day 28: 9.4% with atovaquone‐proguanil compared to 2.9% with artesunate‐amodiaquine; RR 3.19, 95% CI 0.67 to 15.22; 1 RCT, 132 participants; low‐certainty evidence), although there was a similar number of PCR‐unadjusted treatment failures (9 (14.1%) with atovaquone‐proguanil and 8 (11.8%) with artesunate‐amodiaquine; RR 1.20, 95% CI 0.49 to 2.91; 1 RCT, 132 participants; low‐certainty evidence).

There were two comparisons with artesunate‐mefloquine from a 2012 trial in Colombia and a 2002 trial in Thailand where there are high levels of multi‐resistant malaria. There were similar numbers of PCR‐adjusted treatment failures between groups at day 42 (2.7% with atovaquone‐proguanil compared to 2.4% with artesunate‐mefloquine; RR 1.15, 95% CI 0.57 to 2.34; 2 RCTs, 1168 participants; high‐certainty evidence). There were also similar PCR‐unadjusted treatment failures between groups (5.3% with atovaquone‐proguanil compared to 6.6% with artesunate‐mefloquine; RR 0.8, 95% CI 0.5 to 1.3; 1 RCT, 1063 participants; low‐certainty evidence).

When atovaquone‐proguanil was combined with artesunate, there were fewer treatment failures with and without PCR‐adjustment at day 28 (PCR‐adjusted treatment failures at day 28: 2.16% with atovaquone‐proguanil compared to no failures with artesunate‐atovaquone‐proguanil; RR 5.14, 95% CI 0.61 to 43.52; 2 RCTs, 375 participants, low‐certainty evidence) and day 42 (PCR‐adjusted treatment failures at day 42: 3.82% with atovaquone‐proguanil compared to 2.05% with artesunate‐atovaquone‐proguanil (RR 1.84, 95% CI 0.95 to 3.56; 2 RCTs, 1258 participants, moderate‐certainty evidence). In the 2002 trial in Thailand, there were fewer treatment failures in the artesunate‐atovaquone‐proguanil group compared to the atovaquone‐proguanil group at day 42 with PCR‐adjustment.

Whilst there were some small differences in which adverse events were more frequent in the atovaquone‐proguanil groups compared to comparator drugs, there were no recurrent associations to suggest that atovaquone‐proguanil is strongly associated with any specific adverse event.

Authors' conclusions
Atovaquone‐proguanil was effective against uncomplicated P falciparum malaria, although in some instances treatment failure rates were between 5% and 10%. The addition of artesunate to atovaquone‐proguanil may reduce treatment failure rates. Artesunate‐atovaquone‐proguanil and the development of parasite resistance may represent an area for further research

Item Type: Article
Subjects: QV Pharmacology > Anti-Inflammatory Agents. Anti-Infective Agents. Antineoplastic Agents > QV 256 Antimalarials
QX Parasitology > Protozoa > QX 135 Plasmodia
WC Communicable Diseases > Tropical and Parasitic Diseases > WC 750 Malaria
WC Communicable Diseases > Tropical and Parasitic Diseases > WC 770 Therapy
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > Clinical Sciences Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Christianne Esparza
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2021 11:03
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2021 11:03


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