Global Health Group reviews the use of primaquine to target malaria
With the mounting threat of antimalarial drug-resistance, there is a growing interest in the use of transmission blocking drugs to not only curb the spread of resistance, but also accelerate the path to malaria elimination and subsequent eradication. Researchers at the Global Health Group’s Malaria Elimination Initiative have published a new editorial in Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology which reviews global interest in the use of primaquine, currently the only marketed drug that targets transmission—from human to mosquito—by killing the parasite’s mature gametocytes. They found that many malaria program managers in Africa are reluctant to use the drug for fear of hemolytic side effects in individuals with G6PD-deficiency. However, ongoing research can further define and hopefully improve the safety profile for primaquine use and could lead to the development of improved transmission-blocking drugs. With strategies such as mass screen and treat or mass drug administration, transmission-blocking drugs like primaquine can play a key role in eliminating malaria.