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Moxidectin: an oral treatment for human onchocerciasis.

INTRODUCTION: Moxidectin is a milbemycin endectocide recently approved for the treatment of human onchocerciasis. Onchocerciasis, earmarked for elimination of transmission, is a filarial infection endemic in Africa, Yemen, and the Amazonian focus straddling Venezuela and Brazil. Concerns over whether the predominant treatment strategy (yearly mass drug administration (MDA) of ivermectin) is sufficient to achieve elimination in all endemic foci have refocussed attention upon alternative treatments. Moxidectin's stronger and longer microfilarial suppression compared to ivermectin in both phase II and III clinical trials indicates its potential as a novel powerful drug for onchocerciasis elimination.

AREAS COVERED: This work summarizes the chemistry and pharmacology of moxidectin, reviews the phase II and III clinical trials evidence on tolerability, safety, and efficacy of moxidectin versus ivermectin, and discusses the implications of moxidectin's current regulatory status.

EXPERT OPINION: Moxidectin's superior clinical performance has the potential to substantially reduce times to elimination compared to ivermectin. If donated, moxidectin could mitigate the additional programmatic costs of biannual ivermectin distribution because, unlike other alternatives, it can use the existing community-directed treatment infrastructure. A pediatric indication (for children <12 years) and determination of its usefulness in onchocerciasis-loiasis co-endemic areas will greatly help fulfill the potential of moxidectin for the treatment and elimination of onchocerciasis.

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