Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine has shown excellent efficacy and tolerability in malaria treatment. However, concerns have been raised of potentially harmful cardiotoxic effects associated with piperaquine. The population pharmacokinetics and cardiac effects of piperaquine were evaluated in 1,000 patients, mostly children enrolled in a multicentre trial from 10 sites in Africa. A linear relationship described the QTc-prolonging effect of piperaquine, estimating a 5.90ms mean QTc-prolongation per 100ng/mL increase in piperaquine concentration. The effect of piperaquine on absolute QTc-interval estimated a mean maximum QTc-interval of 456ms (EC50=209ng/mL). Simulations from the pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic models predicted 1.98-2.46% risk of having QTc-prolongation > 60ms in all treatment settings. Although piperaquine administration resulted in QTc-prolongation, no cardiovascular adverse events were found in these patients. Thus, the use of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine should not be limited by this concern.
Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy
Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.