Medecins Sans Frontieres says more expensive malaria drug would save more lives

Medecins Sans Frontieres announced on Tuesday that up to 200,000 deaths from severe malaria could be averted each year if countries were to switch to a more expensive but more effective drug.

The international humanitarian aid organization cited data from recent trials in Africa that showed that quinine, the antimalarial drug widely used in poorer countries, was not nearly as effective as its alternative, artesunate, reports.

A clinical trial conducted in nine African countries in late 2010 found that the use of artesunate to treat children with severe malaria reduces the risk of death by nearly 25 percent, according to MSF’s report.    

“With artesunate, we now have a drug that saves more lives from severe malaria, and is safer, easier and more effective than quinine," Veronique De Clerck, an MSF medical coordinator in Uganda, said, according to

Aretesuante, unlike quinine, can be given in a few short minutes with an intravenous or intramuscular injection. The price, however, is three times more expensive than quinine, reports.

Roughly 3.3 billion people, or half the world’s population, are at risk for malaria, the World Health Organization says. There are roughly 250 million malaria cases each year, resulting in nearly one million deaths.

The recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999, MSF provides aid in nearly 60 countries affected by violence, disease and catastrophes.