After 60 years, authorities in the United States have approved a pill that will treat malaria. According to a report in BBC, the drug, tafenoquine is being described as a “phenomenal achievement” and will treat the recurring form of malaria, caused by the parasite plasmodium vivax, to which around 8.5 million people fall prey to every year.
This form of malaria is the most common type to afflict people outside Sub-Saharan Africa and presents its own set of challenges as it remains dormant in the human body for years before reawakening many times. The infected person, therefore, become unwitting reservoirs of the germ. The drug will essentially help in purging the body of the parasite that normally hides in the liver.
Although the drug is effective, the FDA warns that it must be administered with caution. Those who already have an enzyme problem called G6PD deficiency are advised against taking the drug as it can lead to severe anaemia. Those who have psychiatric illnesses can face problems if they consume the drug in higher dosages.
“The ability to get rid of the parasite in the liver with a single dose of tafenoquine is a phenomenal achievement and in my mind it represents one of the most significant advances in malaria treatment in the last 60 years,” Ric Price, Professor at Oxford University told the BBC.
On the other hand, Dr Hal Barron, president of research and development at the company where the drug is manufactured, 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 living with this type of relapsing malaria. Together with our partner, Medicines for Malaria Venture, we believe Krintafel will be an important medicine for patients with malaria and contribute to the ongoing effort to eradicate this disease.”