Safety, tolerability, and efficacy of repeated doses of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine for prevention and treatment of malaria: a systematic review and meta-analysis

17 Feb 2017
Gutman, J., Kovacs, S., Dorsey, G., Stergachis, A. and Ter Kuile, F. O

BACKGROUND: Intermittent preventive treatment (IPT) for malaria is used in infants, children, adults, and pregnant women. Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) is an effective, well tolerated artemisinin-based combination therapy. The long half-life of piperaquine makes it attractive for IPT. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to establish the efficacy and safety of repeated treatment with DP.

METHODS: Following PRISMA guidelines, we searched multiple databases on Sept 1, 2016, with the terms: "human" AND "dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine" OR "DHA-PPQ". Studies were eligible if they were randomised controlled trials (RCTs) or prospective cohort studies involving repeat exposures to standard 3-day courses of DP for either seasonal malaria chemoprevention, mass drug administration, or treatment of clinical malaria, conducted at any time and in any geographic location. Random-effects meta-analysis was used to generate pooled incidence rate ratios and relative risks, or risk differences.

FINDINGS: 11 studies were included: two repeat treatment studies (one in children younger than 5 years and one in pregnant women), and nine IPT trials (five in children younger than 5 years, one in schoolchildren, one in adults, two in pregnant women). Comparator interventions included placebo, artemether-lumefantrine, sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP), SP+amodiaquine, SP+piperaquine, SP+chloroquine, and co-trimoxazole. Of 14 628 participants, 3935 received multiple DP courses (2-18). Monthly IPT-DP was associated with an 84% reduction in the incidence of malaria parasitaemia measured by microscopy compared with placebo. Monthly IPT-DP was associated with fewer serious adverse events than placebo, daily co-trimoxazole, or monthly SP. Among 56 IPT-DP recipients (26 children, 30 pregnant women) with cardiac parameters, all QTc intervals were within normal limits, with no significant increase in QTc prolongation with increasing courses of DP.

INTERPRETATION: Monthly DP appears well tolerated and effective for IPT. Additional data are needed in pregnancy and to further explore the cardiac safety with monthly dosing.

FUNDING: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and NIH.