The prescription drug Coartem is used to treat uncomplicated (mild) malaria. It is approved for use in adults, as well as children who weigh at least 11 pounds. Coartem works by preventing the Plasmodium falciparum parasite from using blood glucose for energy and from making certain proteins it needs to live. The drug is sometimes used "off-label" for treating malaria caused by a different parasite.
What Is Coartem Used For?Coartem® (artemether/lumefantrine) is a prescription medication licensed to treat uncomplicated (mild) malaria. It contains two antimalarial medicines: artemether and lumefantrine.
Using Coartem to Treat MalariaMalaria is a blood infection caused by a microscopic parasite called Plasmodium. It is a leading cause of death and disease worldwide, especially in developing countries. While there are over 100 species of Plasmodium, only four types of species infect humans. These four types include:
- Plasmodium falciparum
- Plasmodium vivax
- Plasmodium ovale
- Plasmodium malariae.
Most people get malaria from the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Less commonly, the disease is spread through contact with infected blood. Malaria is not transmitted from person to person, like the common cold or the flu. You cannot get the disease from casual contact with infected people (see Malaria Causes for more information).
Malaria symptoms typically begin 10 to 30 days after someone becomes infected. It is categorized as uncomplicated or complicated, with symptoms ranging from mild in an uncomplicated infection to severe and life-threatening in complicated cases.
Early or uncomplicated symptoms of malaria include:
If the disease progresses, malaria may become complicated or severe. Severe malaria symptoms may include:
- Kidney failure
- Mental confusion
- Severe anemia
- Fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema)
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
- Bleeding due to blood clotting problems
Severe malaria is almost always caused by P. falciparum. Most cases of severe malaria occur because people with mild or uncomplicated malaria do not get treated quickly enough. Severe malaria requires treatment in the hospital with intravenous (IV) medications.
The key to malaria treatment is starting early. With early treatment, malaria can be cured and the serious effects can be prevented. If treatment is delayed, malaria can be a severe and potentially fatal disease (see Malaria Treatment for more information).
Coartem is one of several medications prescribed to treat malaria. It is approved to treat uncomplicated, or mild, malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum. Coartem cannot be taken to prevent a malaria infection.