100 million vials of injectable artesunate distributed since 2010
The Severe Malaria Observatory 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.
Guilin Pharma, a member of Fosun Pharma, obtained 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.
As of November 2017, Artesun remains the only WHO-prequalified Inj AS available. Medicines for Malaria Venture 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. Further opportunities include expanding the use of Inj AS in vulnerable populations; for example, 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.