Brazil and Thailand become first malaria-endemic countries to announce the launch of radical cure medicine to prevent the relapse of Plasmodium vivax malaria

GSK and Medicines for Malaria Venture announce their first single-dose medicine for the prevention of relapse of Plasmodium vivax  malaria – tafenoquine, co-administered with chloroquine for radical cure, has now been launched in both Thailand and Brazil, in support of malaria elimination efforts.

P. vivax is the main dominating malaria parasite in most countries. This is characterised by clinical relapses, with patients repeatedly falling sick unless the latent liver-stage infection is treated. This takes a considerable physical, economic and social toll on patients and communities, perpetuating cycles of poverty. In some cases, relapses can lead to severe malaria and death. Relapses also increase the disease burden and the potential for onward transmission, ultimately impeding global efforts to eliminate malaria.

The Ministries of Health in both Thailand and Brazil sponsored feasibility studies on the routine use of tafenoquine after point-of-care G6PD testing within their public health systems, with the support of MMV. Evidence from these real-world studies has informed their decisions to introduce these anti-malarial tools in their drive to help eliminate malaria.

Thomas Breuer, Chief Global Health Officer, GSK said: “Today’s news underscores GSK’s long-standing commitment to malaria and we are proud that tafenoquine, co-administered with chloroquine, the first radical cure medicine for P. vivaxmalaria is now launched in both Brazil and Thailand, taking us another step closer to our shared goal of eliminating malaria. Working together with MMV and PATH through the Partnership for Vivax Elimination (PAVE) to optimize this new treatment option has been fundamental to countries being able to introduce this new tool.”

Dr Marcus Lacerda, Tropical Medicine Foundation Dr. Heitor Vieira Dourado (FMT-HVD) and Principal Investigator for the Tafenoquine Rollout STudy (TRuST), said: “The launch of tafenoquine in Brazil marks a significant step forward in our country’s mission to eliminate malaria by 2035. We recognize the unique challenges faced by vulnerable communities, including Indigenous populations, who are disproportionately affected by malaria. This treatment option helps to address these challenges head-on and we are determined to ensure that it reaches those who need it the most.”

The response to the ongoing public health emergency within the Yanomami Special Indigenous Health District, where P. vivax malaria accounts for almost seventy percent of all malaria cases, the government of Brazil accelerated the introduction of tafenoquine in March 2024.

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