Importance: Pneumonia is the leading infectious killer of children. Rigorous evidence supporting antibiotic treatment of children with nonsevere fast-breathing pneumonia in low-resource African settings is lacking. Objective: To assess whether treatment with placebo for nonsevere fast-breathing pneumonia is substantively less effective than 3 days of treatment with amoxicillin. Design, Setting, and Participants: This double-blind, 2-arm, randomized clinical noninferiority trial with follow-up of 14 days screened 1343 HIV-uninfected children aged 2 to 59 months with nonsevere fast-breathing pneumonia at outpatient departments of hospitals in Lilongwe, Malawi, Africa, between June 2016 and June 2017. Interventions: Placebo or amoxicillin dispersible tablets administered twice daily for 3 days. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary end point was the proportion of children failing treatment by day 4 with a relative noninferiority margin of 1.5 times the failure rate in the amoxicillin group. Primary analyses were performed based on the intention-to-treat principle. Planned secondary analyses included treatment failure or relapse by day 14. Results: In total, 1126 children were randomized to 3 days of amoxicillin (n = 564) or placebo (n = 562) therapy. Baseline demographic and clinical characteristics were similar between the groups. For the entire study population, the mean (SD) age was 21.3 (15.1) months, and 601 (53.4%) were female. After an interim analysis, the data safety monitoring board stopped the study because children receiving amoxicillin had a 4.0% (22 of 552 with outcome data) treatment failure rate by day 4, whereas children receiving placebo had a 7.0% (38 of 543) treatment failure rate (adjusted relative risk, 1.78; 95% CI, 1.07%-2.97%; adjusted absolute difference, 3.0%; 95% CI, 0.4%-5.7%). Among children with known day 14 outcomes, 56 of 552 (10.1%) receiving amoxicillin and 64 of 543 (11.8%) receiving placebo had either treatment failure by day 4 or relapse by day 14 (relative risk, 1.16; 95% CI, 0.83%-1.63%; absolute difference, 1.6%; 95% CI, -2.1% to 5.4%). There were no deaths. Conclusions and Relevance: In HIV-uninfected children aged 2 to 59 months in a malaria-endemic region of Malawi, placebo treatment of nonsevere fast-breathing pneumonia was significantly inferior to treatment with amoxicillin. However, by day 4, approximately 93% of children receiving placebo were without treatment failure, and there was no significant difference between groups in treatment failure or relapse by day 14. The number of children with nonsevere fast-breathing pneumonia that needed amoxicillin treatment for 1 child to benefit was 33. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02760420.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health