Meds and you

27 September 2013

Artemether

Artemether is an antimalarial. Antimalarials are drugs that prevent or treat malaria.

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In South Africa Artemether is only available in combination with lumefantrine (Coartem tablets (Nappi code: 876089-007)).

General information

Artemether is an antimalarial. Antimalarials are drugs that prevent or treat malaria.

In South Africa artemether is registered for the treatment of uncomplicated cases of plasmodium falciparum malaria.

Artemether is used only to treat malaria. Do not use this medication to prevent malaria. For it to be effective, the prescribed course needs to be completed.

It should be noted that because this drug may cause dizziness, light-headedness and/or sedation, driving and any hazardous tasks should be avoided until you know how this medication affects you.

How does artemether work?

Malaria is caused by a parasite carried by mosquitoes. When bitten by an infected mosquito, the malaria parasite is passed into the human body. Once inside your body, it multiplies and causes malaria. The malaria parasite digests a protein found in blood called haemoglobin, and divides it into two parts - haem and globin. Haem is toxic to the parasite and the parasite converts the haem into a non-toxic compound to protect itself. Artemether interferes with the parasite's ability to produce this non-toxic compound, causing levels of toxic haem to rise, and this kills the parasite.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 4

Available as: artemether is available as tablets (in combination with lumefantrine)

What does it do? Artemether kills the parasite responsible for causing malaria.

Overdose risk: medium

Dependence risk: low

Is artemether available on prescription only? yes

User information

Dietary advice: take artemether with meals or fluids high in fats (e.g. milk)

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have liver disease
  • you have a kidney disorder
  • you have a heart disease
  • you are pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding

 

Pregnancy: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before using this drug, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.

Breastfeeding: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your condition. Consult your doctor before use.

The elderly: caution is advised in the elderly as side effects are more likely to occur.

Driving and hazardous work: caution is advised as use of this medication may lead to dizziness, light-headedness and/or sedation. Avoid such activities until you know how this medication affects you.

Alcohol: avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication.

Possible side effects

Side effects Frequency   Consult your doctor  
  Common Rare Only if severe In all cases
dizziness x   x  
appetite loss x   x  
diarrhoea x   x  
headache x   x  
nausea x   x  
muscle pain   x x  
fatigue   x x  
cough   x x  
palpitations   x   x
muscle spasm   x   x
movement disorders   x   x

 

Interactions

Drug interactions

trycyclic antidepressants (Amitriptyline) Increased risk of side-effects related to these anti-depressants
metoprolol increased risk of metoprolol related side-effects
amiodarone increased risk of abnormal heart rhythms
solalol increased risk of abnormal heart rhythms
fluoxetine increased risk of abnormal heart rhythms
amitriptyline increased risk of abnormal heart rhythms
chlorpromazine increased risk of abnormal heart rhthyms
haloperidol increased risk of abnormal heart rhythms
quinine increased risk of abnormal heart rhythms
terfenadine increased risk of abnormal heart rhythms
erythromycin increased risk of abnormal heart rhythms
ketoconazole increased risk of abnormal heart rythms
moxifloxacin increased risk of abnormal heart rhythms

 

Overdose action

A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention.

Interesting fact

Artemether is isolated from the Chinese-Vietnamese plant Artemisia annua L., used to treat malaria and fever.

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This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only.

               Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.

 

 

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