Abuse of Medicine Could Make Malaria Untreatable

Brenda Wilson’s report on NPR’s Morning
Edition rang the alarm about the practice of some companies selling single
capsule of malaria medications, a practice that threatens to build immunity to
the disease making it untreatable. This could led to incurable malaria within a
decade according to the report.

(Revised 7:40 am EST, Jan. 20.)

Reporter Brenda Wilson’s story on NPR’s Morning Edition today rang the alarm about the practice of some companies that sell single capsules of the staple malaria drug arteminisin in developing nations.

A similar story appeared on MSNBC.com yesterday. I missed it but Stephen Drachler sent me a link.

The danger, as I understand it from a layperson’s medical knowledge, is that medications such as arteminisin must be taken in a full course and not piecemeal. As with many diseases, if the full course is not taken the virus or bacteria can adapt to it more readily, making the drug ineffective. In effect, this creates drug-resistant diseases.

The World Health Organization is attempting to get regulators and individual companies to halt the practice because of the imminent risk it represents. Health workers around the world are aware of this problem and one of their continuing challenges is to ensure that patients take the full course of their medications.

Wilson’s report was not posted on the NPR website as I write this, but if you missed it on the program it’s worth a listen once it’s archived.

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