What is the role of tafenoquine (Krintafel) in preventing malaria relapse?

Updated: Jun 03, 2020
  • Author: Thomas E Herchline, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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In July 2018, the FDA approved tafenoquine, an antiplasmodial 8-aminoquinoline derivative indicated for the radical cure (prevention of relapse) of P vivax malaria in patients aged 16 years or older who are receiving appropriate antimalarial therapy for acute P vivax infection. The drug is active against all stages of the P vivax life cycle. Tafenoquine is administered as a single oral dose on the first or second day of appropriate antimalarial therapy (eg, chloroquine) for acute P vivax malaria. Approval was based on an international program of more than 4000 participants.

In one of the clinical trials, 329 patients were randomly assigned to a treatment group (chloroquine plus tafenoquine 50 mg [n=55], 100 mg [n=57], 300 mg [n=57], 600 mg [n=56]; or chloroquine plus primaquine [n=50]; or chloroquine alone [n=54]). Relapse-free efficacy at 6 months was 89.2% with tafenoquine 300 mg and 91.9% with tafenoquine 600 mg compared with chloroquine alone (37.5%). The results showed a significantly improved treatment difference compared with chloroquine alone of 51.7% (P< 0.0001) with tafenoquine 300 mg and 54.5% (P< 0.0001) with tafenoquine 600 mg. [34]

Because tafenoquine increases the risk of hemolytic anemia in patients with G6PD deficiency, patients must be tested before initiating the drug. Tafenoquine is contraindicated in patients with G6PD deficiency (or unknown status), in patients who are breastfeeding an infant with G6PD deficiency (or unknown status), and in those with known hypersensitivity. [35]

In August 2018, tafenoquine gained a second indication for adults aged 18 years or older as prophylaxis when traveling to malarious areas. For this indication, the 100-mg tablet (Arakoda) is administered as a loading dose (before traveling to endemic area), a maintenance dose while in malarious area, and then a terminal prophylaxis dose in the week exiting the area. [36]

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