Putting the genie back in the bottle? Availability and presentation of oral artemisinin compounds at retail pharmacies in urban Dar-es-Salaam
Published Date:Mar 29 2006
Source:Malar J. 2006; 5:25.
Recently global health advocates have called for the introduction of artemisinin-containing antimalarial combination therapies to help curb the impact of drug-resistant malaria in Africa. Retail trade in artemisinin monotherapies could undermine efforts to restrict this class of medicines to more theoretically sound combination treatments.
This paper describes a systematic search for artemisinin-containing products at a random sample of licensed pharmacies in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania in July 2005.
Nineteen different artemisinin-containing oral pharmaceutical products, including one co-formulated product, one co-packaged product, and 17 monotherapies were identified. All but one of the products were legally registered and samples of each product were obtained without a prescription. Packaging and labeling of the products seldom included local language or illustrated instructions for low-literate clients. Packaging and inserts compared reasonably well with standards recommended by the national regulatory authority with some important exceptions. Dosing instructions were inconsistent, and most recommended inadequate doses based on international standards. None of the monotherapy products mentioned potential benefits of combining the treatment with another antimalarial drug.
The findings confirm the widespread availability of artemisinin monotherapies that led the World Health Organization to call for the voluntary withdrawal of these drugs in malaria-endemic countries. As the global public health community gathers resources to deploy artemisinin-containing combination therapies in Africa, planners should be mindful that these drugs will coexist with artemisinin monotherapies in an already well-established market place. In particular, regulatory authorities should be incorporated urgently into the process of planning for rational deployment of artemisinin-containing antimalarial combination therapies.
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