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First malaria drug given in 60 years of approval



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A drug for the treatment of malaria – the first such pill approved in 60 years – was given the green light by US authorities.

The drug is specific to the recurrent form of malaria, which causes 8.5 million deaths each year.

This type of malaria is a particular challenge that can be eliminated because it can rest in the liver for many years before waking up many times.

Scientists have described tafenoquine as a "phenomenal achievement."

Supervisors around the world will now look at the drug to see if they can recommend it to their populations.

Relapsing disease

Recurring malaria ̵

1; caused by the parasite Plasmodium vivax – is the most common form of malaria outside of sub-Saharan Africa.

Children may be at particular risk of having multiple malaria attacks from a single bite, missing many schools and becoming weaker every time they have the disease.

And infected humans can act as ignorant reservoirs of the disease, because when the parasite wakes up in their bodies, a mosquito can transfer that parasite to someone else.

This can make it difficult to eliminate around the world.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now labeled the drug Tafenoquine, which can flush the parasite out of its hiding place in the liver and prevent people from getting it back.

It may be taken with another medicine to treat the immediate infection.

There is already a drug that can be used to eliminate malaria that hides in the liver called primaquine.

However, unlike the single dose of required tafenoquin, primaquine is often taken for 14 days.

Some experts fear that many people feel better after only a few days and stop taking the pills so that the parasite can wake up later.

Caution Required

The FDA says that the drug is effective and approved for use in the US, but points out that there are important side effects that need to be considered.

For example, people with an enzyme problem called G6PD deficiency should not take the drug because it can lead to severe anemia

The regulator recommends that people be tested for deficiency before administration – which is a risk can pose problem in poorer areas where malaria is prevalent.

There is also concern that at higher doses, it may be a problem for people with psychiatric disorders.

But despite these warnings, there is hope that the drug along with mosquito nets and other precautions will help reduce the number of vivax malaria in the world.

Professor Ric Price of Oxford University told the BBC: "The ability to get rid of the liver parasite with a single dose of tafenoquine is a phenomenal achievement and, in my view, it represents one of the most significant advances in malaria treatment the past 60 years. "

Hal Barron, President of Research and Development at GSK, the company that manufactures the drug, said: "The approval of Krintafel [the brand name for tafenonquine]the first new treatment for Plasmodium vivax malaria in over 60 years, is a significant milestone for people with this Type of recurrent malaria living.

"We believe that Krintafel together with our partner Medicines for Malaria Venture will be an important drug for malaria patients ongoing efforts to eradicate this disease. "

Tafenonquin has existed since the 1970s, but GSK has redesigned the drug with antimalarial drugs so it can be used to remove malaria parasites in the liver.

The next step will be to use the drug of be judged by the supervisory authorities in countries where this form of malaria is a major problem.


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