Coartem is a combination drug prescribed for treating people, including some children, with uncomplicated malaria that has shown to be more effective than other treatments. This is a treatment only and should not be taken as a preventive drug against malaria. The countries most heavily affected with malaria are in the African Region, so any plans to travel to anywhere in this expanse should have you visiting your doctor first to begin taking a drug that will help prevent malaria.
The active ingredients of Coartem are Artemether and Lumefantrine. Artemether is believed to work by inhibiting a particular enzyme called PfATP6 that is responsible for regulating cellular calcium concentration. Without this regulation in place, cell death occurs. Lumefantrine also helps to interfere with the malaria parasites converting complex organic pigments found in hemoglobin into a malaria pigment. Due to Lumefantrine’s longer half life, it remains working to clear out residual parasites after Artemether has been spent.
Only the female Anopheles mosquito is capable of transmitting malaria through its bite. If an infected person is bitten, the parasites grow and matures in the gut of the mosquito for a short time then travels to the salivary glands. The next time this mosquito bites someone, the parasites are combined with saliva and will be injected into the bloodstream. The parasites will travel to that person’s liver and enter the liver cells where they will mature and leave the liver cells to enter red blood cells. When the parasites have fully matured, the red blood cells burst and allow the parasites to attack and enter other red blood cells. As these blood cells rupture, toxins are released and you begin to display symptoms of malaria, including nausea, chills, and fever.
Your doctor should be aware of other medical conditions or allergies you have before you start Coartem, especially whether you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or are breast feeding. Discuss any OTC and Rx medications you currently take, including herbal remedies and vitamin or dietary supplements. This will help your doctor determine if Coartem is the best drug for your situation.
To prevent a pregnancy while taking Coartem, use a condom or diaphragm with a spermicide because hormonal contraceptive methods or devices may not perform as well to stop a pregnancy from occurring. No child under 11 lbs should take Coartem. Keep Coartem, and all other meds, out of children’s reach. If you experience severe vomiting, rapid heartbeats, or become light-headed, call your doctor right away for further instructions.