First pill for malaria approved in 60 years
A drug to treat malaria was approved in the USA – the first one in 60 years, BBC reported.
The medicine is designed for the recurring form of malaria. Recurring malaria - caused by the parasite plasmodium vivax - is the most common type of malaria outside Sub-Saharan Africa. It can be a particular challenge to get rid of as it can remain dormant in the liver for years before reawakening many times.
An illness that awakes many times
A man that is infected can become a reservoir of the disease without knowing it. When the parasite reawakens in their bodies a mosquito can carry that parasite on to someone else.
Children are especially in danger. They can get several bouts of malaria from a single bite, missing lots of school and getting weaker each time they get the disease.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), US, has approved tafenoquine. This drug can flush the parasite out of its hiding place in the liver and stop people getting it again. It can be taken alongside another medicine to treat the immediate infection.
What is used now?
Now a medication can be used to get rid of malaria hiding in the liver called primaquine. Unlike the single dose of tafenoquine needed, primaquine often needs to be taken for 14 days.
Experts warn that many people feel better after just a few days and stop taking the pills, allowing the parasite to awaken at a later date.
Important side effects
The FDA warns that there are important side effects to be aware of. For example people with an enzyme problem, called G6PD deficiency, should not take the drug as it can cause severe anaemia.
The administration recommends people are tested for the deficiency for this before it is given - which can pose a problem in poorer areas where malaria is common.
Also, higher doses it can be a problem for people with psychiatric illnesses.