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For the first time in more than 60 years there is a new treatment for malaria caused by the P. vivax parasite. Most cases of this type of malaria are found in South America and Southeast Asia.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new single-dose treatment to prevent relapses of one of the most dominant types of malaria.

The new drug, Krintafel, only targets the kind of malaria caused by the P. vivax parasite that mainly occurs in South America and Southeast Asia, with about 8.5 million infections annually. Most malaria cases and deaths occur in Africa and involve another species.
British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Swiss Medicines for Malaria Venture developed the drug.

In testing, one dose of Krintafel had about the same effect as two weeks of the standard treatment, preventing relapses in about three-quarters of patients over six months, the company said.

Malaria is caused by parasites that are spread to humans through mosquito bites. The initial infection can be cured with anti-malarial drugs but parasites can get into the liver and remain there in a dormant form, which can cause recurrences months or even years later. A second drug is used to stop relapses.
'A significant milestone'

Dr. Hal Barron, chief scientific officer and president of research and development for GSK, said: "Today's approval of Krintafel, the first new treatment for Plasmodium vivax malaria in over 60 years, is a significant milestone for people living with this type of relapsing malaria."

The drug has been approved for patients 16 and older who are receiving appropriate antimalarial therapy for acute P. vivax infection and it is the first new treatment for this type of malaria in more than 60 years, GlaxoSmithKline said.
The company will soon apply for approval in Brazil and then other countries where the malaria type is common. It says it will sell the pills at low cost in low-income countries.

Malaria infects more than 200 million people globally per year and kills about half a million, most of them children in Africa. It causes fever, headache, chills and other flu-like symptoms.
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