Efficacy of two artemisinin-based combinations for the treatment of malaria in pregnancy in India: a randomized controlled trial

04 Jul 2018
Anvikar AR, Kuepfer I, Mishra V, Bruce J, Arya T, Mishra DR, Mohanty S, Mohanty R, Srivastava B, Sharma S, Mishra N, Greenwood B, Chandramohan D, Valecha N.

In India, the recommended first-line treatment for malaria in the second and third trimester of pregnancy is artesunate + sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (AS+SP). However, data on safety and efficacy of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) in pregnancy is limited. This study assessed the safety and efficacy of AS+SP and artesunate + mefloquine (AS+MQ) for treatment of Plasmodium falciparum in pregnancy in India.


This open-label, randomized clinical trial was conducted from October 2010 to December 2013 at three sites in India (Ranchi and Jamshedpur in Jharkhand state, and Rourkela in Odisha state). Pregnant women in the second or third trimester who had P. falciparum mono-infection of any parasite density with or without fever were randomized to receive AS+SP or AS+MQ. Blood slides and filter paper samples for Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) were collected on days 0, 1, 2, 3, 14, 21, 28, 42 and 63 post treatment. Women were followed up at delivery and at day 42 postpartum.


Two hundred and forty-eight women of 7064 pregnant women (3.5%) who were screened at monthly antenatal clinics had a P. falciparum mono-infection and were randomized to receive AS+SP (125) or AS+MQ (123) and all of these women were included in the intention to treat (ITT) analysis. The primary endpoint of an adequate clinical and parasite response (ACPR) on day 63 was not available for 9 women who were counted as treatment failure in the ITT analysis. In the ITT population, the ACPR was 121/125 (96.8%; 95% Confidence interval (CI) 92.0-99.1%) in the AS+SP group and 117/123 (95.1%; 95% CI 89.7-98.2) in the AS+MQ group. Among the 239 women (121 from the AS+SP arm and 118 from the AS+MQ arm) who completed the day 63 follow up (per protocol analysis) the ACPR was 100% in the AS+SP group and 99.2% (117/118) in the AS+MQ group. There were five serious adverse events (SAE) among pregnant women (4 in the AS+SP group and 1 in the AS+MQ group) and 13 fetal/neonatal SAEs (7 in the AS+SP group and 6 in the AS+MQ) but none of them were related to the study drugs. A higher proportion of women in the AS+MQ arm reported vomiting within 7 days post-treatment than did women in the AS+SP arm (6.9 vs. 1.6%; p = 0.001).


Both AS+SP and AS+MQ are safe and effective for treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria in pregnancy in India. Trialregistration CTRI This study is registered with Clinical Trial Registry India (CTRI), number CTRI/2009/091/001055. Date of Registration 11 January 2010, http://ctri.nic.in/Clinicaltrials/pmaindet2.php?trialid=1185&EncHid=&use....