Antimalarial drug resistance has now become a serious global challenge and is the principal reason for the decline in antimalarial drug efficacy. Malaria endemic countries need inexpensive and efficacious drugs. Preserving the life spans of antimalarial drugs is a key part of the strategy for rolling back malaria. Artemisinin-based combinations offer a new and potentially highly effective way to counter drug resistance. Clinical trials conducted in African children have attested to the good tolerability of oral artesunate when combined with standard antimalarial drugs.
INTRODUCTION: Research is an essential tool in facing the challenges of scaling up interventions and improving access to services. As in many other countries, the translation of research evidence into drug policy action in Tanzania is often constrained by poor communication between researchers and policy decision-makers, individual perceptions or attitudes towards the drug and hesitation by some policy decision-makers to approve change when they anticipate possible undesirable repercussions should the policy change as proposed.
BACKGROUND: Artemisinin-containing therapies are highly effective against Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Insufficient numbers of tablets and inadequate package inserts result in sub-optimal dosing and possible treatment failure. This study reports the case of three, non-immune, expatriate workers with P. falciparum acquired in Africa, who failed to respond to artemisinin-based therapy. Sub-therapeutic dosing in accordance with the manufacturers' recommendations was the probable cause.
BACKGROUND: As a result of rising levels of drug resistance to conventional monotherapy, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international organisations have recommended that malaria endemic countries move to combination therapy, ideally with artemisinin-based combinations (ACTs). Cost is a major barrier to deployment. There is little evidence from field trials on the cost-effectiveness of these new combinations.
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Reduced sensitivity of Plasmodium falciparum to formerly recommended cheap and well-known antimalarial drugs places an increasing burden on malaria control programs and national health systems in endemic countries. The high costs of the new artemisinin-based combination treatments underline the use of rational and updated malaria treatment policies, but defining and updating such policies requires a sufficient volume of high-quality drug-resistance data collected at national and regional levels.
A range of antimalarial drugs were procured from private pharmacies in urban and peri-urban areas in the major cities of six African countries, situated in the part of that continent and the world that is most highly endemic for malaria. Semi-quantitative thin-layer chromatography (TLC) and dissolution testing were used to measure active pharmaceutical ingredient content against internationally acceptable standards. 35% of all samples tested failed either or both tests, and were substandard.
At a recent meeting (Sept 18, 2009) in which reasons for the limited access to artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) in sub-Saharan Africa were discussed, policy and market surveys on anti-malarial drug availability and accessibility in Burundi and Sierra Leone were presented in a highly interactive brainstorming session among key stakeholders across private, public, and not-for-profit sectors. The surveys, the conduct of which directly involved the national malaria control programme managers of the two countries, provides the groundwork for evidence-based policy implementation.
In the 2010 second edition of WHO's guidelines for the treatment of malaria, the relatively new fixed dose combination dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is included as one of the recommended artemisinin combination therapies. However, experimental testing demonstrates that, due to its intrinsic chemical instability, dihydroartemisinin is not suitable to be used in pharmaceutical formulations. In addition, data show that the currently available dihydroartemisinin preparations fail to meet the internationally accepted stability requirements.
BACKGROUND: In spite of enhanced control efforts, malaria remains a major public health problem causing close to a million deaths annually. With support from several donors, large amounts of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) are being deployed in endemic countries raising safety concerns as little is known about the use of ACT in several of the settings where they are deployed.
BACKGROUND: Immediate injectable treatment is essential for severe malaria. Otherwise, the afflicted risk lifelong impairment or death. In rural areas of Africa and Asia, appropriate care is often miles away. In 2009, Melba Gomes and her colleagues published the findings of a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of rectal artesunate for suspected severe malaria in such remote areas.