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Neuroauditory toxicity of artemisinin combination therapies—Have safety concerns been addressed?


American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Category: Publications

Author: Virginia Ramos Martn, Carmen Gonzlez Martnez, Ian Mackenzie, Joachim Schmutzhard, Cheryl Pace, David G. Lalloo, Dianne J. Terlouw

Published Date: 27 May 2014


Although artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are widely viewed as safe drugs with a wide therapeutic dose range, concerns about neuroauditory safety of artemisinins arose during their development.

A decade ago, reviews of human data suggested a potential neuro-ototoxic effect, but the validity of these findings was questioned.

With 5–10 years of programmatic use, emerging artemisinin-tolerant falciparum malaria in southeast Asia, and the first calls to consider an increased dose of artemisinins, we review neuroauditory safety data on ACTs to treat uncomplicated falciparum malaria.

Fifteen studies reported a neurological or auditory assessment. The large heterogeneity of neuro-ototoxic end points and assessment methodologies and the descriptive nature of assessments hampered a formal meta-analysis and definitive conclusions, but they highlight the persistent lack of data from young children.

This subgroup is potentially most vulnerable to any neuroauditory toxicity because of their development stage, increased malaria susceptibility, and repeated ACT exposure in settings lacking robust safety monitoring.


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