ABSTRACT: This study represents the first phase III trial of the safety, tolerability, and effectiveness of tafenoquine for malaria prophylaxis. In a randomized (3:1), double-blinded study, Australian soldiers received weekly malaria prophylaxis with 200 mg tafenoquine (492 subjects) or 250 mg mefloquine (162 subjects) for 6 months on a peacekeeping deployment to East Timor. After returning to Australia, tafenoquine-receiving subjects received a placebo and mefloquine-receiving subjects received 30 mg primaquine daily for 14 days. There were no clinically significant differences between hematological and biochemical parameters of the treatment groups. Treatment-related adverse events for the two groups were similar (tafenoquine, 13.4%; mefloquine, 11.7%). Three subjects on tafenoquine (0.6%) and none on mefloquine discontinued prophylaxis because of possible drug-related adverse events. No diagnoses of malaria occurred for either group during deployment, but 4 cases (0.9%) and 1 case (0.7%) of Plasmodium vivax infection occurred among the tafenoquine and mefloquine groups, respectively, up to 20 weeks after discontinuation of medication. In a subset of subjects recruited for detailed safety assessments, treatment-related mild vortex keratopathy was detected in 93% (69 of 74) of tafenoquine subjects but none of the 21 mefloquine subjects. The vortex keratopathy was not associated with any effect on visual acuity and was fully resolved in all subjects by 1 year. Tafenoquine appears to be safe and well tolerated as malaria prophylaxis. Although the volunteers' precise exposure to malaria could not be proven in this study, tafenoquine appears to be a highly efficacious drug for malaria prophylaxis.
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 12/2009; 54(2):792-8. · 4.84 Impact Factor