Friday, August 26, 2005

Report: Different malaria drug could save thousand of lives

You know, it's nice that they are still doing testing and trying to maximise the effects of the few anti-malarials that are still somewhat effective, but the truth of the matter is, the major pharmaceuticals have not come out with a new anti-malarial in something like 40 years. Why? You ask. The people who get malaria don't have enough money to make it worth their while. I read an article a while ago about one pharmaceutical that actually developed a new anti-malarial recently and decided not to release it because their profits wouldn't be high enough - not that they were afraid to lose money - that the profit wouldn't be enough. I don't want to sound naive here, because I do know that corporations do not exist to promote the public good, they exist to promote the profit of their share holders, but they do market themselves as if they are only there to make our lives better, which is so %$#^@# cynical. Anyway, I guess my point is that often government and university labs will hand over million dollar research to these corporations and perhaps they should drive a harder bargain when they do it.
Last Updated Thu, 25 Aug 2005 15:25:09 EDT
CBC News
A new study says a different malaria drug could save tens of thousands of adult lives every year, especially in Asia.
A study reported in this week's edition of The Lancet said that artesunate is better at saving lives than the standard medication, quinine. It said artesunate reduces the chance of death from malaria by 35 percent.
Artesunate is derived from a traditional herb that has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years to treat fever. It works more quickly, is easier to use and has fewer side effects. But it has been unclear whether it was any better at preventing death.
In the study, a team led by Dr. Nick White at Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand, compared the two drugs in 1,461 adults with severe malaria who are being treated at hospitals in Bangladesh, Indonesia, India and Myanmar.
Half the patients were given intravenous artesunate, while the others were treated with quinine.
The researchers found that 22 percent of the patients on quinine died from their malaria, but only 15 percent of the patients getting artesunate died.
The World Health Organization said the findings will prompt a change in its guidelines on the treatment of adults with severe malaria in areas like Southeast Asia and South America, locations where the parasite has shown resistance to quinine.
In such locations, switching to artesunate could save the lives of tens of thousands of the estimated 1 million people who die from malaria every year.
However, most of the world's malaria deaths occur in Africa, where it is mostly children who are affected. Whether artesunate would be better than quinine in that situation remains unclear.
The disease progresses differently in children and the drug may work differently in them, so until studies prove artesunate is better than quinine in children, the old drug will remain the treatment of choice for children suffering from malaria.
Quinine is cheaper and more easily available, and without proof of substantial superiority of artesunate, it is likely that quinine will remain the drug of choice for treating severe malaria in Africa for some time.

8 comments:

Princess Pessimism said...

You're so right Jenny....I swear that pharmaceuticals must be the biggest money maker in the world. I'll be that there exists a cure for aids...cancer...but how would they make any MONEY if they cured everything? they wouldnt. It's convtroversy I tell you. CONTROVERSY!!! lol

Jennifer said...

You know, I wouldn't worry too much about the pharmaceuticals curing everything, because they can just invent new diseases as they come up with drugs. Had anyone heard of ADD or ADHD before they started marketing Ritalin? I hadn't.
Besides I hear that the fastest growing pharmaceutical market is for pet anti-depressants. Probably because 1st world pets have more purchasing power than humans in the 3rd world.

Bill said...

I'm still chuckling about those funny names. Hugh? Hugh who? Hugh Jass that is. Is there a feminine version Chris and I could use around here?

Jennifer said...

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? A girl version for Hugh Jass?
Actually girl or boy, those names are so funny, can anyone think of any more of them?

paul said...

I met a woman once who had a hypenated last name. her maiden name was Moystan. her husband's name was Cumming. no joke.

Jennifer said...

Paul, am I going to see you this weekend? Where are you?

Jennifer said...

Also, this is the reason I'd never change my name if I was getting married.

Bill said...

http://www.hendess.net/london.htm