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Medical News & Perspectives
February 1, 2006

New Drug Formulations Offer Hope for Easing Global Burden of Malaria

JAMA. 2006;295(5):485-486. doi:10.1001/jama.295.5.485

A complex mix of factors—lack of funds and political will, drug shortages, and complicated drug regimens—have stood in the way of more effective malaria treatment in underdeveloped nations. But international health experts hope the availability later this year of two new fixed-dose combination medications will help alleviate what they call an “appalling” crisis: the failure to treat millions with malaria.

One of the new formulations is a fixed-dose combination of artesunate and amodiaquine; the other combines artesunate and mefloquine. Both formulations are known as artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs). Artesunate, which is derived from the Chinese herb Artemisia annua, can rapidly improve malaria symptoms. Combining it with synthetic drugs such as mefloquine and amodiaquine accelerates the therapeutic response.