Alternative for Malaria Drug
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Irene
Posted on: October 3, 2000

My daughter is in the Peace Corps in Tanzania. American PCV’s take Mefloquin as an antimalarial agent. She tells me that volunteers in Africa from England and France, do not take Mefloquin; they take some Chinese herb that does not have the side effects of the drug. Would you know what that is and how I could get some?

The Chinese herb is Artemisia annua. It contains a substance called artemisinin which has been shown to be effective against malaria parasites. In fact, in areas where drug resistance is prevalent, artemisinin is the last line of defence.

We do not know where artemisinin can be obtained. We sell the seeds for the plant, but the purified active compound is not yet available in North America as far as we know. That may be because of the regulatory environment in the U.S. and Canada.

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