Meds and you

27 September 2013

Artemether and lumefantrine

The combination of artemether and lumefantrine is an antimalarial drug. Antimalarials are drugs that prevent or treat malaria.

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General information

The combination of artemether and lumefantrine is an antimalarial drug. Antimalarials are drugs that prevent or treat malaria.

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

The combination of artemether and lumefantrine is used only to treat malaria. Do not use this combination to prevent malaria.

For this combination to be effective, the prescribed course needs to be completed. The tablets can be crushed when given to children.

Take the combination of artemether and lumefantrine with meals or fluids high in fats (e.g.milk). Should vomiting occur within one hour of taking the medicine, the dose needs to be repeated.

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 and lumefantrine 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. The combination of artemether and lumefantrine 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: the combinaion of artemether and lumefantrine is available as tablets.

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

Overdose risk: medium

Dependence risk: low

Is the combination of artemether and lumefantrine available as a generic? no

Is the combination of artemether and lumefantrine available on prescription only? yes

User information

Dietary advice: take the combination of artemether and lumefantrine with meals or fluids high in fats (e.g.milk)

Stopping this medicine: for the combination of artemether and lumefantrine to be effective, the prescribed course needs to be completed.

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
dizzieness 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

 

 

tricyclic 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
sotalol 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 rhythms
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 rhythms
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.

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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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