Anti-malarial drug gets approval

Breakthrough

A new anti-malarial drug, which is in use for treating fatal cerebral malaria for the last 18 months, has received approval from the drug regulator for treating even the uncomplicated cases.

Developed and manufactured by the pharmaceutical company Ranbaxy with government support, the medicine, “Synriam” can now be used to treat simple malaria caused by Plasmodium vivax parasite.

Malaria caused by P Vivax accounts for almost 65 per cent of malaria cases. The parasite is becoming resistant to standard medicines like chloroquine and primaquine, creating problems for doctors.

Synriam received approval from Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation following phase III clinical trial for uncomplicated malaria cases.

The drug was launched last year as a new medicine against cerebral malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum, which often turns fatal.

The dosage remains same for the uncomplicated malaria. A patient is required to take just one tablet per day, for three days, compared to other medicines where two to four tablets are required to be taken, twice daily, for three or more days.

But the Ranbaxy drug is expensive compared to standard treatment. When it was launched in April 2012, a pack of three tablets cost Rs 130, which is quite high compared to the standard line of treatment using primaquine. Entire dosage of primaquine for malaria patient would cost less than Rs 10.

“Malaria caused by P Vivax caused more morbidity and prone to relapse. The resistance to primaquine is fairly common,” Amit Sengupta, a doctor associated with Jan Swasthya Abhiyan told Deccan Herald.

About three decades ago, Vivax malaria accounted for almost 95 per cent of malaria burden in India. While the share of cerebral malaria caused by P falciparum increased up to 30-35 per cent, there is no comprehensive national data on the prevalence of P Vivax cases.

A paediatric version of the same medicine is undergoing clinical trial at the moment.

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