Artesunate: investigational drug for the treatment of severe falciparum malaria in Hawai'i.

There are hundreds of millions of cases of malaria each year worldwide resulting in a million deaths. These deaths are mostly due to Plasmodium falciparum. The only Federal Drug Administration approved treatment for severe malaria is intravenous quinidine gluconate. Intravenous quinidine is increasingly unavailable in the United States. In 2007, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention implemented an investigational new drug protocol to allow the use of intravenous artesunate for cases of severe malaria in the United States. The authors present such a case treated under this protocol at Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawai'i.
A 49-year-old man presented to Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawai'i in February 2009 with a one-month history of fever, chills, and weight loss. He recently travelled to multiple malaria endemic areas. Physical examination was significant for fever and prostration. Laboratory studies revealed anemia, thrombocytopenia, and a high parasite load of Plasmodium falciparum. A strategic network was activated to obtain and administer intravenous artesunate. His condition rapidly improved as his parasitemia cleared. He was discharged after six days with no adverse medication effects and full recovery upon six-month follow-up.
Our patient met the criteria for severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria. He was immediately treated with intravenous artesunate and manifested a quick and durable response to therapy. At present, intravenous artesunate is awaiting Federal Drug Administration approval but available via a strategic network controlled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This case highlights a common delay in diagnosis, importance of optimal prophylaxis, and attention to travel history as they relate to the development of severe malaria.
AuthorsDavid M Callender, Gunther Hsue
JournalHawaii medical journal (Hawaii Med J) Vol. 70 Issue 4 Pg. 77-9 (Apr 2011) ISSN: 0017-8594 [Print] United States
PMID21785506 (Publication Type: Case Reports, Journal Article, Review)
Chemical References
  • Antimalarials
  • Artemisinins
  • Drugs, Investigational
  • Artesunate
  • Antimalarials (therapeutic use)
  • Artemisinins (therapeutic use)
  • Artesunate
  • Drugs, Investigational (therapeutic use)
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hawaii
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Malaria, Falciparum (diagnosis, drug therapy)
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plasmodium falciparum (drug effects, isolation & purification)
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome

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