Tafenoquine for the treatment of Plasmodium vivax malaria

13 Apr 2022
Llanos-Cuentas A, Manrrique P, Rosas-Aguirre A, Herrera S, Hsiang MS.


Introduction: Plasmodium vivax malaria causes significant disease burden worldwide, especially in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Oceania. P. vivax is characterized by the production of liver hypnozoites that cause clinical relapses upon periodic activation. Primaquine, an 8-aminoquinoline drug, has been the standard of care for decades to treat liver-stage P. vivax malaria; however, it requires long treatment regimens (one to two weeks) that lead to poor adherence and thus clinical relapses. Tafenoquine (TFQ), a newly available and efficacious single-dose 8-aminoquinoline, aims to address this challenge. Safe administration is possible when paired with the use of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) diagnostics to prevent 8-aminoquinoline-induced hemolysis in patients with underlying G6PD deficiency (G6PDd).

Areas covered: In this review, the authors present the recent literature regarding the pharmacology, efficacy, safety, and tolerability of TFQ and highlight regional differences in these areas. The authors also discuss the potential for TFQ, complemented with primaquine PQ and effective screening for G6PDd, to improve P. vivax clinical management and facilitate targeted mass drug administration in communities to decrease transmission.

Expert opinion: Clinical studies show therapeutic efficacy of TFQ as well as a good performance in terms of safety and tolerability. Additional research regarding the effectiveness and safety TFQ in malaria elimination strategies, such as targeted or mass drug administration, are needed.