New drug Artefan for severe malaria

The newly-introduced anti-malarial drug, Artefan 40/240, will be used to treat severe malaria while Coartem will continue to be used for simple cases. The state minister for primary health, Dr. Emmanuel Otaala, told Saturday Vision on Thursday that the public must be sensitised on drug use to reduce the risk of drug resistance.

The minister dismissed claims that Coartem had become resistant to malaria. “Coartem is for simple malaria. you cannot use it for complicated, severe or cerebral malaria. We have not received complaints of this being side effects or resistance, unless misused.” The minister also clarified that Artefan, which was launched last Tuesday, can be safely used on pregnant women and children.

Otaala refuted claims that anti-malarial drugs are too expensive for the common man. “These drugs are free at government hospitals and private clinics, which must not make profits on them. Pharmacies have their prices so it depends on where someone acquires them from.”

The government disqualified chloroquine as a first line malaria treatment after the disease became resistant to it. Otaala reported that malaria kills 26 Ugandans per hour, 320 per day. Meanwhile, Swiss drug maker Novartis has cut the price of Coartem by 20% to make it more widely available. The reduction took effect on the world Malaria Day yesterday.

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