Field safety and effectiveness of new visceral leishmaniasis treatment regimens within public health facilities in Bihar, India
Background: In 2010, WHO recommended the use of new short-course treatment regimens in kala-azar elimination ef
Background: In 2010, WHO recommended the use of new short-course treatment regimens in kala-azar elimination efforts for the Indian subcontinent. Although phase 3 studies have shown excellent results, there remains a lack of evidence on a wider treatment population and the safety and effectiveness of these regimens under field conditions.
Methods: This was an open label, prospective, non-randomized, non-comparative, multi-centric trial conducted within public health facilities in two highly endemic districts and a specialist referral centre in Bihar, India. Three treatment regimens were tested: single dose AmBisome (SDA), concomitant miltefosine and paromomycin (Milt+PM), and concomitant AmBisome and miltefosine (AmB+Milt). Patients with complicated disease or significant co-morbidities were treated in the SDA arm. Sample sizes were set at a minimum of 300 per arm, taking into account inter-site variation and an estimated failure risk of 5% with 5% precision. Outcomes of drug effectiveness and safety were measured at 6 months. The trial was prospectively registered with the Clinical Trials Registry India: CTRI/2012/08/002891.
Results: Out of 1,761 patients recruited, 50.6% (n = 891) received SDA, 20.3% (n = 358) AmB+Milt and 29.1% (n = 512) Milt+PM. In the ITT analysis, the final cure rates were SDA 91.4% (95% CI 89.3–93.1), AmB+Milt 88.8% (95% CI 85.1–91.9) and Milt+PM 96.9% (95% CI 95.0–98.2). In the complete case analysis, cure rates were SDA 95.5% (95% CI 93.9–96.8), AmB+Milt 95.5% (95% CI 92.7–97.5) and Milt+PM 99.6% (95% CI 98.6–99.9). All three regimens were safe, with 5 severe adverse events in the SDA arm, two of which were considered to be drug related.
Conclusion: All regimens showed acceptable outcomes and safety profiles in a range of patients under field conditions. Phase IV field-based studies, although extremely rare for neglected tropical diseases, are good practice and an important step in validating the results of more restrictive hospital-based studies before widespread implementation, and in this case contributed to national level policy change in India.