For the first time in 60 years, the FDA approves a new malaria drug

July 23, 2018

The FDA has given the go-ahead to a medication that targets a difficult-to-treat type of malaria.

Called tafenoquine, the medication is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and was given priority review by the agency to treat a kind of malaria that hides in a patient’s liver and then returns after the initial treatment. This strain of malaria impacts about 8.5 million people worldwide. It is also the kind of malaria most commonly found outside of Sub-Saharan Africa.

The most commonly reached-for drug for these malaria patients, primaquine, has to be taken for two weeks. Tafenoquine, on the other hand, is administered in a single dose and is designed to work alongside another medication that targets the initial infection. 

Regulators from countries around the world will now evaluate the medication and how it could be used for their populations.

All told, malaria kills about 1 million people worldwide each year, most of them children.

Read the full BBC report.