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Pharmacokinetics of a novel sublingual spray formulation of the antimalarial drug artemether in African children with malaria

, : Pharmacokinetics of a novel sublingual spray formulation of the antimalarial drug artemether in African children with malaria. Antimicrobial Agents and ChemoTherapy 59(6): 3208-3215

The pharmacokinetics of sublingual artemether (ArTiMist) was investigated in 91 young African children with severe malaria or who could not tolerate oral antimalarial therapy. Each received 3.0 mg/kg of body weight of artemether at 0, 8, 24, 36, 48, and 60 h or until the initiation of oral treatment. Few blood samples were drawn postdose. Plasma artemether and dihydroartemisinin (DHA) levels were measured using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, and the data were analyzed using established population compartmental pharmacokinetic models. Parasite clearance was prompt (median parasite clearance time, 24 h), and there were no serious adverse events. Consistent with studies in healthy adults (S. Salman, D. Bendel, T. C. Lee, D. Templeton, and T. M. E. Davis, Antimicrob Agents Chemother 59:3197-3207, 2015,, the absorption of sublingual artemether was biphasic, and multiple dosing was associated with the autoinduction of the metabolism of artemether to DHA (which itself has potent antimalarial activity). In contrast to studies using healthy volunteers, pharmacokinetic modeling indicated that the first absorption phase did not avoid first-pass metabolism, suggesting that the drug is transferred to the upper intestine through postdose fluid/food intake. Simulations using the present data and those from an earlier study in older Melanesian children with uncomplicated malaria treated with artemether-lumefantrine tablets suggested that the bioavailability of sublingual artemether was at least equivalent to that after conventional oral artemether-lumefantrine (median [interquartile range] areas under the concentration-time curve for artemether, 3,403 [2,471 to 4,771] versus 3,063 [2,358 to 4,514] μg · h/liter, respectively; and for DHA, 2,958 [2,146 to 4,278] versus 2,839 [1,812 to 3,488] μg · h/liter, respectively; P ≥ 0.42). These findings suggest that sublingual artemether could be used as prereferral treatment for sick children before transfer for definitive management of severe or moderately severe malaria.


PMID: 25801552

DOI: 10.1128/AAC.05014-14

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