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Between 1990 and 1994, a series of prospective studies were conducted to optimize the treatment of multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria on the borders of Thailand. The tolerance of various treatment regimens containing either mefloquine 15 mg/kg (M15) or 25 mg/kg (M25) was evaluated in 3673 patients aged between 6 months and 88 years. Early vomiting (within 1 hour) is an important determinant of treatment outcome in these areas, despite re-administration of the dose. Overall, 7 % of the patients vomited within an hour. Significant risk factors were age < or = 6 years (relative risk (RR), 3.9) or > or 50 years (RR, 2.7), the higher mefloquine dose (M25) (RRm 2.7), vomiting < 24 hours before enrolment (RR, 2.5), axillary temperature > 38.0 degrees C (RR, 1.6), and parasitaemia > 10,000/microliter (RR, 1.3). In children < or = 2 years, 30% vomited with M25, and 13% did not tolerate a repeat dose. Vomiting was reduced 40% by splitting the higher dose (RR, 0.6; 95% CI, 0.4-0.8), and 50% by giving mefloquine on the second day in combination with artesunate (RR, 0.5; CI, 0.3-0.9). Anorexia, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and sleeping disorders were 1.1-1.4 times more frequent with M25 than M15 in the three days following treatment, but were similar in the single or split-dose M25 groups, despite twofold higher mefloquine concentrations obtained with the latter. There was no evidence that diarrhoea, headache, and abdominal pain were associated with mefloquine use. High-dose mefloquine is well tolerated but should be given as a split dose.


Journal article


Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Publication Date





631 - 642


Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.


Humans, Malaria, Falciparum, Gastrointestinal Diseases, Dizziness, Acute Disease, Mefloquine, Antimalarials, Prospective Studies, Drug Resistance, Multiple, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Middle Aged, Child, Child, Preschool, Infant, Female, Male, Sleep Wake Disorders