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Drug Listed as First Choice in Emergency Treatment for Malaria

The artesumate injection by a Chinese pharmaceutical company has been listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the first choice in emergency treatment for malaria, the world's worst parasitic infection, the company's board chairman said Tuesday.


"We will not seek exorbitant profits from the injections after the WHO's move and try to make sure the poor can afford," said Yan Xiaohua, also CEO of the Guilin Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd, based in Guilin, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.


The price of artesumate injection by the Chinese company in Africa, a region that suffers worst from malaria, is only 60 percent of that of the drugs produced by Western pharmaceutical companies, he added.


The company, as the only producer of artesumate in China that has met Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) requirements of the WHO, has the independent brand and intellectual property rights of artesumate, Yan said.


It has developed holograms as a security device to fight against counterfeits.


Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are recognized by the WHO as the safest and best existing treatment against malaria.


Artesumate is made from artemisinin that is extracted from Artemisia annua, or southernwood. Ninety percent of the plant are now growing in China and Vietnam.


Malaria is the world's worst parasitic infection accounting for 300-500 million clinical cases, more than 80 percent occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. It has the greatest death toll on very young children, pregnant women and the non-immunes.


New analyses show that malaria accounts for 20 percent of all young child deaths in Africa, 30 percent of all clinic visits and 25 percent of all hospital admission in endemic countries.


Malaria is caused by microscopic parasites that are transmitted from person to person by female anopheline mosquitoes. The disease is widespread mainly in poorer tropical areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America.


The WHO has moved to step up cultivation in east Africa of Artemisia annua in a bid to ensure reliable supply and reduce its costs.


The Guilin Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd has registered trade marks of artemisinin-based drugs and sells them in 34 countries.


(Xinhua News Agency August 2, 2006)





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