According to the WHO, malaria affected 228 million people worldwide in 2018, resulting in 405,000 deaths. Timely access to the appropriate treatment is key to ensuring a bout of acute uncomplicated malaria does not turn into a severe case.
ASMQ: an ACT recommended by WHO for the treatment of acute uncomplicated malaria
Artesunate-mefloquine (ASMQ) is one of five ACTs recommended by WHO in their guidelines for the treatment of acute uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria. This ACT, developed by DNDi and Farmanguinhos and manufactured by Cipla via a technology transfer, was prequalified by WHO in 2012. Since then, ASMQ has had an important role to play in the global effort to improve timely access to treatment, in cases of acute uncomplicated malaria.
In July 2016, a new study by Sirima S. et al evaluating ASMQ’s safety and efficacy in young African children (6-59 months old) was published in The Lancet. The results showed that the safety and efficacy of ASMQ were comparable to those of dispersible artemether-lumefantrine, the most widely-used ACT. In addition, ASMQ was as well tolerated as artemether-lumefantrine, and rates of re-infection appeared lower in the ASMQ arm, probably due to the longer half-life of mefloquine compared to lumefantrine.
ASMQ is accessible in nine countries across South America and Southeast Asia
Currently, ASMQ is the recommended first- or second-line treatment in five countries in South America and four countries in Southeast Asia. Recently, ASMQ has been identified as the preferred alternative to dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DHA-PQP) in parts of Cambodia where rising levels of drug resistance have diminished the efficacy of DHA-PQP.
MMV supports access to ASMQ in malaria-endemic countries
Through an agreement with DNDi in 2015, MMV took over access stewardship of ASMQ, supporting product adoption and use per its recommended label. MMV also helped disseminate evidence-based information regarding product efficacy and safety for consideration by national treatment programmes, in line with WHO’s guidance.