A Cheap, Effective New Treatment for Malaria

The announcement today of a new medication to
treat malaria based on
artemisinin is a
hopeful sign of the tremendous activity now being directed toward ending this
disease.

A new drug based on artemisinin and wormwood holds the promise of low-cost, easy treatment for malaria which claims a million lives a year, kills one child every thirty seconds in Africa and is a drain on the productivity of national economies in many developing nations.

Doctors Without Borders and the drug company Sanofi-Aventis are making the announcement. It is being presented as a low-cost treatment for people already experiencing early stage malaria.

Doctors Without Borders, which has long been a vocal critic of the practices of pharmaceutical companies in the developing world, teamed with the Sanofi-Aventis to create the drug. It will be sold through an interesting price structure that leaves great lee-way to local pharmacists. Poor patients will be able to purchase the drug for one dollar U.S. per pill while others will be charged four dollars.
The medication will also be sold at cost to the World Health Organization and other non-profit groups as well.

In addition to its low cost, the medication is also dosed for children, a particular problem for most malaria drugs available today. Children under eleven pounds will be treated with a dosage formulated for their weight. This is an especially positive feature of the new drug.

The drug will not be patented, leaving open the possibility that others will use the formula to create their own brand of medication, and they won’t have incentive to make a counterfeit version.

This is one more hopeful sign in the move to lessen the toll of this disease that plagues the poor.

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