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What Is Coartem®?

Coartem® is used to treat malaria, which is spread by mosquitoes.
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  • Written By: B. Chisholm
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2014
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Coartem® is an artemesinin-based combination therapy (ACT) used to treat uncomplicated plasmodium falciparum malaria. It works by clearing the parasites in the acute phase and preventing the parasites from reappearing in the blood. Facliparum malaria is a serious disease transmitted by mosquitoes. It develops very quickly and, if not treated immediately, can become complicated and result in cerebral malaria and death. Rapid resolution of fever and fast clearance of parasites is achieved by Coartem®, which has helped save thousands of lives.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease endemic to mostly tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Infection is from a mosquito bite. The mosquito injects the parasite into the bloodstream, and it travels to the liver. In the liver, the parasite reproduces and goes into the blood. It infects red blood cells, which burst, releasing more parasites. The incubation period, or time from mosquito bite to onset of symptoms, of falciparum malaria is five to 12 days.

Vague flu-like features, nausea and headache are the initial symptoms of malaria. Most people present with a high temperature that comes and goes. Any person who has traveled to a malaria area and develops symptoms of illness should seek medical attention immediately.

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Lumefantrine and artemether are the active ingredients of Coartem®. The lumefantrine is eliminated slowly, which prevents the parasites from reappearing in the blood. Artemether is an artemesinin derivative extracted from the sweet wormwood plant and has a rapid onset of action to allow clearance of the parasites in the initial stages of the disease.

Coartem® typically is available only by prescription and is used as initial treatment for uncomplicated malaria. Many people traveling to malaria endemic areas take it with them as standby treatment to begin if they develop symptoms. This is especially the case if they are traveling to remote areas from which it will take time to get to medical help.

This drug is available as tablets or dispersible tablets for children. The dosage used to treat malaria is weight-based and consists of a three-day course. One should discuss any underlying medical conditions, allergies or other medications he or she is taking with the prescribing doctor before beginning use of Coartem®. As with any medication, this drug might interact with other medications and cause side effects.

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