Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Gya: New successful malaria drug on the market

A NEW malaria drug combination therapy treatment found to be effective in other countries is to be introduced here, Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy has announced.

He last week said he plans to visit several sites in Region Seven (Cuyuni/Mazaruni) and Region Eight (Potaro/Siparuni) to introduce hinterland communities to the new treatment.

The new drug has been tried in small amounts in African countries and Suriname and found to be effective, he reported.

Ramsammy also said that even though the drug is expensive, Guyana has collaborated with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to have the cost reduced to US$2.40 per package.
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The Government Information Agency (GINA) yesterday said the Health Ministry has set in motion a clinical treatment study at the Malaria Clinic, Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) to see how patients respond to the new drug Coartem.
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Artemesinine and lumefatrine are the other two drugs being used with Coartem and, according to the minister, it is better to use more than one drug to fight malaria.

Various anti-malaria medications have been used successfully in the past, but the parasites have become resistant to them, GINA noted, adding that Coartem is the fastest acting anti-malaria therapy and by virtue of its excellent tolerability, can also be administered to children.

Manufactured by Novartis, a pharmaceutical company in China, Coartem was co-developed by Novartis and Chinese researchers at the Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology in Beijing, combining a traditional Chinese plant-based remedy with a synthetic substance.

The resulting oral, fixed dose artemesinine combination is the fastest-acting anti-malaria medicine, with a cure rate of more than 95 per cent, the agency said.

It destroys parasites in 48 hours.

GINA said Novartis agreed to make Coartem available on a "no profit, no loss" basis for distribution through WHO.

Novartis and WHO are jointly developing special packs of Coartem that will be made available for national government tenders and the anti-malaria efforts of non-governmental organisations, the agency said.

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