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Year : 2006  |  Volume : 52  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 277-280

Treatment of falciparum malaria in the age of drug resistance

Australian Army Malaria Institute, Enoggera, Queensland, and University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Correspondence Address:
G D Shanks
Australian Army Malaria Institute, Enoggera, Queensland, and University of Queensland, Brisbane
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 17102546

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The growing problem of drug resistance has greatly complicated the treatment for falciparum malaria. Whereaschloroquine and sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine could once cure most infections, this is no longer true and requiresexamination of alternative regimens. Not all treatment failures are drug resistant and other issues such asexpired antimalarials and patient compliance need to be considered. Continuation of a failing treatment policyafter drug resistance is established suppresses infections rather than curing them, leading to increasedtransmission of malaria, promotion of epidemics and loss of public confidence in malaria control programs.Antifolate drug resistance (i.e. pyrimethamine) means that new combinations are urgently needed particularlybecause addition of a single drug to an already failing regimen is rarely effective for very long. Atovaquone/proguanil and mefloquine have been used against multiple drug resistant falciparum malaria with resistance toeach having been documented soon after drug introduction. Drug combinations delay further transmission ofresistant parasites by increasing cure rates and inhibiting formation of gametocytes. Most currentlyrecommended drug combinations for falciparum malaria are variants of artemisinin combination therapy wherea rapidly acting artemisinin compound is combined with a longer half-life drug of a different class. Artemisininsused include dihydroartemisinin, artesunate, artemether and companion drugs include mefloquine, amodiaquine,sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine, lumefantrine, piperaquine, pyronaridine, chlorproguanil/dapsone. The standard ofcare must be to cure malaria by killing the last parasite. Combination antimalarial treatment is vital not only tothe successful treatment of individual patients but also for public health control of malaria.


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Online since 12th February '04
2004 - Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
Official Publication of the Staff Society of the Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, India
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow