Malaria Home > Coartem

If you have uncomplicated (mild) malaria, a healthcare provider may prescribe Coartem. This medication comes in tablet form and is taken twice a day for three days. It works by killing a specific parasite that is responsible for causing this blood infection. Some of the possible side effects include dizziness, headaches, and vomiting.

What Is Coartem?

Coartem® (artemether/lumefantrine) is a prescription medication licensed to treat uncomplicated (or mild) malaria. It is a combination of two medicines: artemether and lumefantrine.
(Click Coartem Uses for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes This Medication?

This medication is made by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

How Does Coartem Work?

Coartem belongs to a class of drugs called antimalarials. Malaria is a blood infection caused by tiny parasites called Plasmodium. Coartem treats malaria by killing the Plasmodium parasites.
Although it is not entirely known how Coartem works, it is thought that the medication prevents Plasmodium from using blood glucose for energy and from making proteins and nucleic acid, which are essential for the parasite to live.

When and How to Take It

Some general considerations for taking Coartem include the following:
  • This medication comes in tablet form. It is usually taken twice a day for three days.
  • Coartem should be taken with food to help the body absorb as much of the medicine as possible. When people have malaria, they sometimes do not want to eat. However, it is important that you take this medicine with some food or drink, such as milk, pudding, soup, or broth. If you cannot take it with food, it may not work to cure malaria.
  • If Coartem tablets cannot be swallowed whole, they may be crushed and mixed with a small amount of water (one to two teaspoons) immediately prior to use. Mix the medicine and water in a clear container. After drinking the mixture, rinse the container with more water and drink it to make sure the entire dose is taken.
  • If you vomit within two hours after taking Coartem, you should take another dose. If you vomit again, call your healthcare provider. You may need another medicine to treat malaria.
  • You should not drink grapefruit juice while taking Coartem. Drinking grapefruit juice with this medicine may increase the amount of Coartem in your body, increasing your risk for side effects.
  • You should start feeling better within two days of beginning Coartem treatment. Take the medicine for all three days, even if you feel better. If you do not start to feel better, your healthcare provider may need to give you a different malaria medicine.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if you get flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, and muscle aches and pains, after finishing Coartem. You may need additional malaria treatment.
  • For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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