Malawi Government recently launched a new malaria drug manufactured by a Chinese Pharmaceutical Company Beijing Holey Cotec. The drug, Duo-cotecxin, offers a three-day, one-dose-a-day therapy. Albert Sharra talks to Ministry of Health spokesperson Henry Chimbali to get more details about the new drug.
The Pharmacy, Medicine and Poisons Board has launched a new malaria drug called Duo-cotecxin, why this new drug?
Just like any other new drug that has proved to be effective through rigorous scientific research, we welcome it and hope it will assist in managing malaria cases in Malawi.
How different is Duo-cotecxin from other malaria drugs?
This new drug is not different from the current one known as LA [Lumefantrine Artemether] that is widely used in our facilities. We have just completed its efficacy research in Malawi and it is at around 98 percent efficacious, just two percent more than LA which we are currently offering for treating malaria. As it is, we will continue to use LA because this is supported by our policy on malaria case management and this new drug is not within this policy.
How soon will the country start using the new drug?
Until when we adopt it into the policy later on, that is when we may start to scale up our education on how the drug should be taken. While its strength is almost the same as LA, perhaps its dosage may be different and that information will be made available during the training sessions of the providers.
Has it been tested in other countries?
The new drug has been tested in Malawi and the results are currently being compiled, but as said, its efficacy is almost the same as LA. Presently, we will not replace LA with Duo-cotecxin until we update our policy and when may be the efficacy of LA has reduced later on.
What side effects does this drug have?
Just like any other drugs, the medicine may have side effects and these vary quite a lot from one person to another. What is more important is to look at the benefits of taking such medicines and not necessarily the side effects.
There is an influx of counterfeit drugs in the country. How is government going to prevent an influx of fake Duo-cotecxin?
We indeed get concerned about the influx of counterfeit medicines and the Pharmacy, Medicines and Poisons Board will intensify monitoring to ensure that fake drugs do not find their way into our facilities. The use of counterfeit drugs has the potential to promote the development of resistant strains of malaria.
Any last words?
We are asking people to adhere to treatment as prescribed at the hospital to prevent the development of resistant strains of malaria.