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Dispersible Malaria Treatment for Children Safe and Effective

New artemether-lumefantrine formulation works as well as the crushed tablets now in use

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 15 (HealthDay News) -- A new, dispersible formulation of artemether-lumefantrine is as safe and effective as the currently used crushed tablet to treat infants and children with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum, according to research published online Oct. 15 in The Lancet.

Salim Abdulla, M.D., of the Ifakara Health Institute in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and colleagues conducted a study of 899 children aged 12 years and younger from Benin, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique and Tanzania. The children all had uncomplicated P. falciparum, and 447 received dispersible artemether-lumefantrine while 452 received crushed tablets.

In all, over 85 percent of the children completed treatment; 403 in the dispersible medication group and 409 in the crushed medication group qualified for intention-to-treat analysis, the investigators report. The day-28 cure rate was 97.8 percent in the dispersible group and 98.5 percent in the crushed group, respectively. A similar number of children in both groups experienced vomiting: 7 percent of the dispersible medication group and 9 percent of the crushed medication group, the research revealed.

"Since we found that the dispersible formulation was similar in efficacy and safety to the standard formulation, cost savings are also likely with its use, with the potential benefit of improving acceptability of the combination once on the market," the authors write. "The dispersible formulation is easy to administer, gives compliance and effective treatment; and hence facilitates adoption in malaria control programs."

The study was funded by Novartis Pharma in Basel, Switzerland, and Medicines for Malaria Venture in Geneva, Switzerland. Several of the study authors report financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

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