Oxamniquine is an alternative to praziquantel for the treatment of S mansoni infections. It has also been used extensively for masstreatment. It is not effective against S haematobium or S japoni-cum. It is not available in the USA.
Oxamniquine, a semisynthetic tetrahydroquinoline, is readily absorbed orally; it should be taken with food. Its plasma half-life is about 2.5 hours. The drug is extensively metabolized to inactive metabolites and excreted in the urine—up to 75% in the first 24 hours. Intersubject variations in serum concentration have been noted, which may explain some treatment failures.
Oxamniquine is active against both mature and immature stages of S mansoni but does not appear to be cercaricidal. The mechanism of action is unknown. Contraction and paralysis of the worms results in detachment from terminal venules in the mesentery and transit to the liver, where many die; surviving females return to the mesenteric vessels but cease to lay eggs. Strains of S mansoni in dif-ferent parts of the world vary in susceptibility. Oxamniquine has been effective in instances of praziquantel resistance.
Oxamniquine is safe and effective in all stages of S mansoni dis-ease, including advanced hepatosplenomegaly. In the acute (Katayama) syndrome, treatment results in disappearance of acute symptoms and clearance of the infection. The drug is generally less effective in children, who require higher doses than adults. It is better tolerated with food.
Optimal dosage schedules vary for different regions of the world. In the western hemisphere and western Africa, the adult oxamniquine dosage is 12–15 mg/kg given once. In northern and southern Africa, standard schedules are 15 mg/kg twice daily for 2 days. In eastern Africa and the Arabian peninsula, standard dos-age is 15–20 mg/kg twice in 1 day. Cure rates are 70–95%, with marked reduction in egg excretion in those not cured. In mixed schistosome infections, oxamniquine has been successfully used in combination with metrifonate.
Mild symptoms, starting about 3 hours after a dose and lasting for several hours, occur in more than one third of patients. Centralnervous system symptoms (dizziness, headache, drowsiness) are most common; nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, colic, pruritus, and urticaria also occur. Infrequent adverse effects are low-grade fever, an orange to red discoloration of the urine, proteinuria, micro-scopic hematuria, and a transient decrease in leukocytes. Seizures have been reported rarely.
Since the drug makes many patients dizzy or drowsy, it should be used with caution in patients whose work or activity requires mental alertness (eg, no driving for 24 hours). It should be used with caution in those with a history of epilepsy. Oxamniquine is contraindicated in pregnancy.