MALARIA DRUG FOUND INEFFECTIVE

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Mosquito-borne disease resistant to Fancida

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, September 2, 2009) – Fancida, one of the drugs that is given to patients as treatment for malaria has been found in a preliminary study to have high resistance.

This was stated in a report given yesterday by Dr Celine Barnabas from PNG Institute of Medical Research at the medical symposium underway at the University of Papua New Guinea’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

She said this confirmed information that was known for sometime that Fancida could not be given alone.

"Fancida is to be given in combination with other drugs and may be discarded one day,’’ she said, adding this would be done after more research had been done and when the Health Department had alternatives.

The finding was made from a survey that analysed parasites carrying malaria and how they mutate, some of which related to the ineffectiveness of fancida.

She said laboratory tools were used to look at the plasmodium vivax malaria that had been sparked recently by the description of severe cases of the disease, reemergence in different areas and reports of drug resistance.

Health Minister Sasa Zibe said he wants to see the newly-introduced anti-malarial ARCO distributed for use at the public health facilities. This drug is distributed by Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals Ltd and is taken as one single dose.

World Health Organisation is promoting another drug called Coatem which is taken for three days.

"I want to ask WHO to explain why they want Coatem because as compared to ARCO, you take one single dose,’’ he said.

The drug, ARCO, was launched in Port Moresby three years ago by Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and is under clinical trials before it will be decided by the Government through the Health Ministry whether it should be accepted as one of the drugs to treat malaria.

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