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Global Demand for New Malaria Drug Hikes: WHO

Global demand for artemisinin-based malaria therapy is expected to fetch 70 million dosages or at least US$300 million in the year 2005, according to the prediction of the World Health Organization (WHO). 


Tanzanian media on Tuesday quoted the WHO as saying at an international meeting in the country that the global demand for artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) was set to surge to over 70 million dosages compared to the 30 million in 2004 and 2 million in 2003, considering up to 51 countries had followed its recommendation to adopt ACTs as the first-line treatment against malaria.


According to statistics released by the WHO during the meeting, so far, just 25 countries worldwide, 12 of them in Africa, have begun producing this medicine.


The meeting appeals for extending ACTs production worldwide especially on the African continent, where over 300 million people are suffering from the disease each year.


The WHO has moved to step up cultivation in east Africa of Artemisia annua, or southernwood, the ACT crucial herb, 90 percent of which now growing in China and Vietnam, in a bid to ensure reliable supply and reduce its costs.


ACTs, recognized by the WHO as the safest and best existing treatment against malaria, are sold at a range of US$4 to 7 per dosage, 10 times more costly than chloroquine and other commonly used malaria drugs, which are no longer effective in many regions due to malaria parasite resistance.


(Xinhua News Agency June 7, 2005)

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