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Misleading anti-malarial drug

Promotional claims about the preventive efficacy of a malaria drug are being questioned by experts, who say the statements are misleading and should be withdrawn. Manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline markets the anti-malarial drug Malarone (atovaquone and proguanil) as being 97 per cent effective at preventing the aggressive falciparum strain of malaria, but the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB) – published by the Consumers’ Association – says the evidence for this is misleading. //

DTB says that no study has been published into the drug’s effectiveness as a malaria preventative in non-immune populations from countries such as the UK where the disease is not endemic. The publication warns that it is not known if Malarone is as effective as the previous main choices – mefloquine and doxycycline.

Professor Joe Collier, editor of Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, said the lack of published evidence in non-immune travellers meant there was nothing to support the manufacturer’s promotional claim about Malarone’s effectiveness and that the claim should be withdrawn as a result. A spokesperson for GlaxoSmithKline said the company supported the 97 per cent efficacy rate indicated by the three efficacy trials carried out in Africa.

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