Treating uncomplicated malaria with Coartem® Dispersible (artemether-lumefantrine)

Children under five bear most of the global malaria mortality burden1, yet prior to 2009 there were no high-quality ACTs specifically developed for children. Drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics can differ between adults and children, and adult tablets need to be broken up or crushed, making it difficult to ensure correct dosing for children. Furthermore, the bitter taste causes children to gag or spit out the medicine that could save their lives. 

Novartis and MMV co-developed Coartem Dispersible to address this unmet medical need and set a new standard of child-friendly treatment for malaria.

A child-friendly medicine

This flavour-masked formulation disperses in as little as 10ml of water within 30 seconds and is readily taken by young patients, thus helping improve compliance and dosing accuracy.

Infants below 5kg make up a critical neglected group and developing antimalarials specifically suited to their needs is essential to malaria control and elimination. Currently, newborns or underweight infants infected with malaria are treated with either a whole tablet or half a tablet of Coartem Dispersible or with quinine. However, this could lead to inappropriate dosing, and/or adverse reactions. 

In order to fulfil this unmet need, MMV and Novartis are developing a formulation with a new ratio of artemether and lumefantrine specifically for these youngest patients.

Supporting introduction and roll-out of Coartem Dispersible

Since its launch, 450 million treatments of Coartem Dispersible have been distributed in more than 50 countries, saving an estimated 926,000 lives.

To understand the barriers to acceptance of WHO-recommended child-friendly treatments for malaria, MMV supported a multi-country analysis. The study, published in 2012, was conducted in six francophone countries in Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, Mali, and Senegal. Recommendations from this study were shared with the World Health Organization’s ‘Better Medicines for Children’ programme. Read the summary of findings. 

In addition, patient-friendly packaging and healthcare worker training materials were developed (in both French and English).

→Take a look at the interactive map to see where Coartem Dispersible is registered. 

  • Past and current partners:

    Novartis, Dalberg Consulting, Ministry of Health Malawi, National Malaria Control Programmes, Pharmacy & Poisons Board of Malawi, PSI, WHO.

     1. WHO. World Malaria Report (2021).

    Updated December 2021