Artemisinin drugs for treating uncomplicated malaria are better used in combination therapy. Artemisinin drugs come originally from a plant that has been used since ancient times in China as a traditional medicine for fever and malaria. These drugs act quickly and few side effects have been reported. Malaria parasites have so far not developed resistance to artemisinin drugs. The review shows that artemisinin drugs clear malaria parasites from the blood more effectively than standard treatment drugs. In areas where malaria parasites are more resistant to existing drugs, such as South East Asia, artemisinin drugs are not better at sustained parasite clearance than standard treatment with quinine or mefloquine. Combination treatment using an artemisinin drug together with the longer-acting antimalarial drug mefloquine improves sustained clearance of parasites, but mefloquine is associated with adverse effects. There are few studies on combination treatment with longer-acting antimalarial drugs that are safer than mefloquine. There is no evidence from trials that any of the several artemisinin derivatives is better than the others.
The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 1999, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD000256. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000256.