Monday, 2 November 2009 9:08 AM

Row over Ant-Malarial Drug, Artemedine

A private doctor in Honiara has dismissed fears that the anti-malarial drug Artemedine, which contains the ingredient artemether, is dangerous and is not adequate to treat malaria.

Dr George Manimu, a former permanent secretary for Health has expressed his views on artemether and experiences he has had with the drug in the Solomon Star.

He says first hand clinical experience he has had when his son succumbed to a serious malaria attack this year, led him to believe artemether is a safe and effective anti-malaria drug for PF and PV malaria.

Dr Manimu says artemether, in the correct dose, works well against both malaria types.

Dr Manimu says the Principal Pharmacist of the National Referral Hospital, Julie Zinihite has no experience in treating patients with artemether. He says Ms Zinihite does not work with patients on a one to one basis to make such an assessment.

Dr Manimu says he is also surprised that Dr Lyndes Wini, of the National Malaria Program who has had a lot of experience working with artemether could bluntly deny it.

Dr Manimu calls on the Ministry of Health permanent secretary to reprimand the two officers for making statements that amount to misinformation without his endorsement.

Meanwhile, three senior medical experts at the National Referral Hospital support information given by Dr Wini and Ms Zinihite that Coartem is a more safe and effective anti-malaria drug.

Chairman of the National Drugs and Therapeutics Committee Dr Tenneth Dalipanda, Ministry of Health Undersecretary, Dr Carl Susuairara, and the Director of National Pharmacy Services Division, Wale Tobata - have all endorsed this view.

The three health professionals say arthemeter is only effective in treating malaria when it is used in combination with another drug called lumefantrine. They say these two drugs are put together in one drug, called Coartem - the correct treatment for malaria.

They say if arthermeter is taken on its own, malaria may not be fully cured - which can lead to an effect called resistance. They say resistance is a growing problem in some areas in Southeast Asia.

Health experts say the World Health Organisation fully endorses this advice.