Treating uncomplicated malaria with ASMQ (artesunate-mefloquine)

If left untreated, a bout of uncomplicated malaria can quickly evolve into severe malaria, which may have life-threatening consequences. Timely access to the appropriate treatment for uncomplicated malaria is key to avoiding this scenario.

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.

Supporting access to ASMQ in malaria-endemic countries

Through an agreement with DNDin 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. 

One study undertaken in 2016, and published in The Lancet, evaluated ASMQ’s safety and efficacy in young African children (6-59 months old). 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.1

Using ASMQ to combat resistance to other ACTs

Critically needed supplies of ASMQ were delivered to Cambodia in 2015 as part of the national strategy to re-introduce ASMQ in regions where DHA-PQP had experienced declining efficacy in prior years. Throughout 2016 and 2017, ASMQ remained a critical drug of choice for Cambodia’s national malaria control programme.  It was one of the commodities considered for a strategic regional stockpile for the Greater Mekong Subregion in 2018. Stockpiling allows for adequate supplies of drugs even when case numbers are too low for pharmaceutical companies to keep producing a given medicine. 

→Take a look at the interactive map to see the countries where ASMQ is registered.