Artemether-lumefantrine for treating uncomplicated falciparum malaria

Plain language summary pending.

Authors' conclusions: 

The four dose regimen of artemether-lumefantrine seems to be less effective than most other current antimalarial regimens. The six dose regimen is largely untested.

The authors are aware that some recently published trials may change the results of this review, and are preparing an update. These trials are referenced in 'Studies awaiting assessment'.

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Background: 

Artemether-lumefantrine is being recommended by the World Health Organization for treating uncomplicated malaria. It is expensive. We sought evidence of its superiority over existing treatment regimens.

Objectives: 

To compare artemether-lumefantrine with other antimalarial drugs for treating uncomplicated falciparum malaria.

Search strategy: 

We searched the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group specialized trials register (May 2005), CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library Issue 2, 2005), MEDLINE (1966 to May 2005), EMBASE (1988 to May 2005), conference proceedings, and reference lists of articles. We contacted experts in malaria research and the pharmaceutical company that manufactures artemether-lumefantrine.

Selection criteria: 

Randomized and quasi-randomized trials comparing artemether-lumefantrine administered orally with standard treatment regimens (single drug or combination).

Data collection and analysis: 

Two reviewers independently applied inclusion criteria to potentially relevant trials, assessed trial quality, and extracted data. Parasitaemia on day 28 (day 42 for sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine and day 63 for mefloquine) was the primary outcome. Adverse event information was collected from the studies.

Main results: 

Six trials (1698 participants) tested a four dose regimen. Failure rates for artemether-lumefantrine tended to be higher (comparisons included sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, halofantrine, and mefloquine; difference statistically significant for mefloquine). When compared with chloroquine, artemether-lumefantrine was better in two studies, but the failure rate for chloroquine at these sites was over 50%.

Two trials (419 participants) tested a six dose regimen against mefloquine plus artesunate. Artemether-lumefantrine was associated with higher failure rates but the studies were small.

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