Primaquine is an 8-aminoquinolone drug commonly used for the chemoprophylaxis and treatment of avian malarial infections in managed penguin populations worldwide. Little is known about its pharmacokinetic properties in avian species. The objective of this study was to describe the disposition of primaquine phosphate after a single oral dose in 15 healthy African penguins (Spheniscus demersus). A single tablet containing 26.3 mg of primaquine phosphate (equivalent to 15 mg primaquine base) was administered orally to each bird in a herring fish. Blood samples were collected prior to drug administration and at predetermined timepoints through 144 hr postadministration. Plasma was analyzed for drug concentration by high-performance liquid chromatography with ultraviolet detection. Mean maximum plasma concentration of primaquine phosphate was 277 ± 96 ng/ml at approximately 3.1 hr following oral administration. The mean disappearance half-life was 3.6 ± 1.6 hr. Plasma concentrations were below detectable limits in all but one penguin by 36 hr. A single oral administration of 26.3 mg of primaquine phosphate in African penguins resulted in a pharmacokinetic profile comparable to those attained in human studies. These results suggest that a dosing interval similar to human regimens may be of potential use in the prevention and treatment of avian malaria in penguins. Additional clinical studies are needed to determine the efficacy and safety of this regimen.
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