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UN health agency announces plans to develop new anti-malaria drug

UN health agency announces plans to develop new anti-malaria drug

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) announced the signing today of an agreement which is expected to pave the way for the development of a new combination anti-malaria drug.

Malaria kills more than 1 million people every year, mostly African children, according to WHO, which says new medicines to treat the disease are badly needed because of the emergence of increasingly drug-resistant parasites.

Under the accord signed today, the new combination drug - called pyronaridine-artesunate - will be jointly developed by the Tropical Diseases Research Programme, the Medicines for Malaria Venture and Shin Poong Pharmaceuticals. Assuming clinical studies begin as planned in the second quarter of next year, the medicine - if shown to be safe and effective - could be registered by early 2006.

WHO said the dose of the new drug would be a single tablet taken once a day. As this represents an easier regime than existing combinations, the agency predicts that more people would fully comply with the course of treatment - a factor considered critical not only for attaining higher cure rates but also for delaying the development of drug resistance.