Severe malaria treatment estimated to have saved an additional 650,000 lives compared to treatment with quinine
MMV welcomes the announcement by Fosun Pharma of the global distribution of 100 million vials of Artesun® (injectable artesunate – Inj AS), a life-saving treatment for severe malaria. The announcement of this landmark achievement coincides with the 7th anniversary of the drug’s prequalification by the WHO in November 2010. Thanks to the use of Inj AS instead of quinine per WHO’s recommendations, an estimated 650,000 additional young lives may have been saved.
Severe malaria is life-threatening, especially in young children, and may ensue rapidly if a bout of uncomplicated malaria is not promptly treated.
MMV and Guilin Pharma, a member of Fosun Pharma, worked together to obtain WHO prequalification for the Inj AS formulation, Artesun. This – the first international stamp of approval for an Inj AS product – was granted in November 2010, and marked a critical turning point, making it possible for the first time for donor funds to support procurement of Inj AS as treatment for severe malaria.
Since 2011, WHO’s Guidelines for the Treatment of Malaria (3rd Edition) strongly recommends Inj AS as the preferred treatment for severe malaria based on the results of the AQUAMAT1 and SEAQUAMAT studies2. These two ground-breaking studies demonstrated the superiority of Inj AS over intravenous quinine, offering 23% and 35% reductions in mortality following treatment of severe malaria in African and Asian patients, respectively. A recent paper in PLoS ONE has also shown that Inj AS is one of 29 most cost-effective health interventions to improve the quality of children’s lives3.
“The tremendous accomplishment of delivering 100 million vials of this life-saving medicine has been achieved thanks to Fosun Pharma’s vision and long-standing commitment to developing WHO-prequalified medicines for malaria,” said Dr David Reddy, MMV’s CEO. “This commitment has helped radically to improve outcomes for critically ill patients at risk of death from severe malaria. Fosun Pharma’s success is also testament to the power of partnerships, with MMV bringing both technical expertise and its international network of donors and partners to the table, forging a long-lasting collaboration that successfully helped make this drug available to those in need. MMV is proud to be associated with this significant global health achievement.”
As of November 2017, Artesun remains the only WHO-prequalified Inj AS available. MMV is supporting efforts by additional manufacturers to seek WHO prequalification for their Inj AS products, in order to create greater security and stability for the global supply of this critical medicine. In addition, MMV continues to evaluate opportunities to expand use of Inj AS in vulnerable populations; for example, recent policy reviews by MMV have revealed that, despite widespread adoption of Inj AS, many countries are still not aligned with WHO’s policy guidance that this drug should be used to treat severe malaria in all trimesters of pregnancy. MMV’s commitment to ensure the maximum impact of this life-saving drug will continue unabated in the years to come.
1. "Artesunate versus quinine for treatment of severe falciparum malaria: a randomised trial" N.J. White et al (South East Asian Quinine Artesunate Malaria Trial (SEAQUAMAT) group). The Lancet, volume 366: 717–25, August 27, 2005
2. "Artesunate versus quinine for treatment of severe falciparum malaria: a randomised trial" N.J. White et al (South East Asian Quinine Artesunate Malaria Trial (SEAQUAMAT) group). The Lancet, volume 366: 717–25, August 27, 2005
3. Horton S et al (2017) Ranking 93 health interventions for low- and middle-income countries by cost-effectiveness. PLoS ONE 12(8): e0182951.