According to US News, in Australia, a new medicine for children and teenagers that can treat a specific strain of malaria was licensed on Monday. The nonprofit Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), which worked with GlaxoSmithKline to develop the medicine, announced the clearance on Monday (GSK). It’s for a single dose of tafenoquine (Kozenis) to be used with the standard malaria treatment chloroquine. This is the first time the medicine has been approved for use in children, and it is expected to lead to more approvals around the world.
Tafenoquine can treat Plasmodium vivax malaria, prevalent in South and Southeast Asia, South America, and the Horn of Africa. Every year, P. vivax causes up to 5 million malaria infections. According to MMV, children aged 2 to 6 are four times more likely than adults to contract it.
“We’re happy to have collaborated with GSK on this child-friendly medicine, and we’re thrilled by today’s news. Malaria caused by P. vivax is especially dangerous for young children, as repeated relapses can lead to severe anemia and, in extreme cases, death. Today, we have a tool that can help adults and children stop relapsing – we are one step closer to conquering this disease, ” MMV’s CEO, Dr. David Reddy, said in a statement.
The medicine will be presented to nine countries and the World Health Organization for approval. MMV executive vice president George Jagoe told The New York Times.
According to the New York Times, the US Food and Drug Administration approved 300 milligrams of tafenoquine for P. vivax malaria in patients 16 and older in July 2018. Australia, Brazil, Thailand, and Peru followed similar approvals.
The new medicine for kids is a single 50-milligram tablet dispersed in water, which is far easier to take than the adults’ seven- or fourteen-day pill course.
Approximately 62 percent of the children in the study had some side effects. While none of the side effects were severe, one out of every five children had vomiting due to the medication. The medication was 95 percent successful at preventing recurrence after four months.
Malaria is one of the worst infectious diseases, accounting for 627,000 fatalities globally in 2020.
Most of these deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, home to Plasmodium falciparum, a different type of malaria parasite. In October, the World Health Organization backed the first malaria vaccine against P. falciparum, also developed by GlaxoSmithKline.