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BACKGROUND: Existing anthelmintic drugs (eg, albendazole and mebendazole) have low efficacy against the intestinal nematode species Trichuris trichiura and the drug pipeline is exhausted. We aimed to investigate the strategy of combination chemotherapy with existing drugs to establish whether their efficacy could be enhanced and broadened. METHODS: In this randomised controlled trial, we compared three drug combinations and one standard drug alone in children aged 6-14 years in two schools on Pemba Island, Tanzania infected with T trichiura and concomitant intestinal nematodes. We assigned children, via a randomisation list with block sizes of either four or eight, to orally receive albendazole (400 mg) plus ivermectin (200 μg/kg); albendazole (400 mg) plus mebendazole (500 mg); albendazole (400 mg) plus oxantel pamoate (20 mg/kg); or mebendazole (500 mg) alone. The primary endpoints were the proportion of children cured of T trichiura infection and the reduction of T trichiura eggs in stool based on geometric means, both analysed by available case. This study is registered with ISRCTN, number ISRCTN80245406. FINDINGS: We randomly assigned 440 eligible children infected with T trichiura between Sept 2, and Oct 18, 2013, to one of the four treatment groups (110 children per group). Data for 431 children were included in the analysis for the primary endpoints. Albendazole plus oxantel pamoate (74 of 108 children cured [68·5%, 95% CI 59·6-77·4]; egg reduction 99·2%, 98·7-99·6) and albendazole plus ivermectin (30 of 109 cured [27·5%, 19·0-36·0]; egg reduction 94·5%, 91·7-96·3) were significantly more effective against T trichiura than mebendazole alone (nine of 107 cured [8·4%, 3·1-13·8]; egg reduction 58·5%, 45·2-70·9). Albendazole plus mebendazole had similar low efficacy (nine of 107 cured [8·4%, 3·1-13·8; egg reduction 51·6%, 35·0-65·3) to mebendazole alone. About a fifth of the children reported adverse events, which were mainly mild. Abdominal cramps and headache were the most common adverse events after treatment; abdominal cramps were reported by 13 (12·0%) children for albendazole plus ivermectin, 10 (9·3%) for albendazole plus mebendazole, 20 (18·2%) for albendazole plus oxantel pamoate, and 16 (14·5%) for mebendazole; headaches were reported by 5 (4·6%) children for albendazole plus ivermectin, 6 (5·6%) for albendazole plus mebendazole, 12 (10·9%) for albendazole plus oxantel pamoate, and 7 (6·4%) for mebendazole. INTERPRETATION: Our head-to-head comparison of three combination chemotherapies showed the highest efficacy for albendazole plus oxantel pamoate for the treatment of infection with T trichiura. Further studies should investigate the combination of albendazole plus oxantel pamoate so that it can be considered for soil-transmitted helminthiasis control programmes. FUNDING: Medicor Foundation and Swiss National Science Foundation.

Original publication




Journal article


Lancet infect dis

Publication Date





277 - 284


Administration, Oral, Adolescent, Albendazole, Animals, Anthelmintics, Child, Drug Therapy, Combination, Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions, Feces, Female, Helminthiasis, Humans, Intestinal Diseases, Parasitic, Ivermectin, Male, Mebendazole, Parasite Egg Count, Pyrantel Pamoate, Tanzania, Treatment Outcome, Trichuriasis, Trichuris