New Study Shows Tafenoquine is a Cost-Effective Treatment for Malaria

New Study Shows Tafenoquine is a Cost-Effective Treatment for Malaria


New research conducted by the Menzies School of Health Research has revealed that tafenoquine, a new medication, is a cost-effective option for the treatment of vivax malaria. This study has provided valuable insights into the cost-effectiveness of tafenoquine in comparison to other medications in fighting against the disease.


Vivax malaria is particularly challenging to treat as it can remain dormant in the liver and reactivate weeks or even months after the initial infection. Currently, there are two medications available to combat the liver stage of vivax malaria: primaquine and tafenoquine. The study, recently published in PLOS Medicine, compared the cost-effectiveness of these two medications, specifically focusing on the reduction of malaria transmission.


To conduct the study, researchers analyzed a year’s worth of vivax malaria disease reports from Brazil. They projected the impact over a 10-year period and compared the costs and effects of different medications on the disease. The findings revealed that tafenoquine was a cost-effective option when compared to a seven-day treatment of primaquine. It should be noted that before prescribing tafenoquine, testing for glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is required. G6PD testing before primaquine treatment is also recommended by the World Health Organization.


The researchers used an economical evaluation model in conjunction with a disease transmission model to estimate and map their results. They considered various scenarios of patients completing their primaquine treatment, as current data suggests that only 62 to 86% of vivax malaria patients in Brazil complete the full seven-day course. The study found that tafenoquine was the most cost-effective treatment option across all three completion rates.


Incomplete treatment for vivax malaria can lead to future illness, as parasites remain dormant in the liver. This can result in a loss of productivity and have significant economic implications. The findings of this study support the use of tafenoquine after G6PD screening in Brazil, especially in areas where patients are less likely to adhere to a primaquine treatment plan. Additionally, the study suggests that tafenoquine would be even more cost-effective when administered to children.


Vivax malaria is a prevalent form of malaria, and finding cost-effective and clinically effective methods of treatment is crucial for its elimination. The adoption of G6PD testing and tafenoquine as part of Brazil’s national treatment policy for adults is a step in the right direction. These findings can also benefit other countries seeking cost-effective solutions for malaria treatment.


Associate Professor Angela Devine emphasizes the economic burden that malaria places on endemic countries. Therefore, understanding the cost-effectiveness of different treatment options is essential in order to make informed decisions regarding resource allocation and treatment priorities.


Effective and affordable treatment not only reduces healthcare expenses but also increases productivity and contributes to overall economic development. The results of this study take into account both the economic impact of treatment and its effectiveness in preventing the spread of malaria. These findings play a significant role in the global efforts towards malaria elimination.


1.Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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