GSK and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) have announced the launch of a new single-dose medicine, tafenoquine, to prevent the relapse of Plasmodium vivax (P. vivax) malaria in malaria-endemic countries Brazil and Thailand.

Tafenoquine is co-administered with chloroquine, for radical cure.

An antimalarial drug, tafenoquine is an 8-aminoquinoline that targets the liver stage of P. vivax malaria.

When used with chloroquine, which addresses the blood-stage infection, tafenoquine can effectively treat both stages of the disease.

But tafenoquine can cause acute haemolytic anaemia in individuals with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency.

As a result, a G6PD test is essential before the drug can be prescribed.

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The Ministries of Health in Thailand and Brazil have conducted feasibility studies on the routine use of tafenoquine after point-of-care G6PD testing.

These studies, supported by MMV, have been instrumental in their decisions to adopt this new anti-malarial strategy.

In Brazil, the urgency of the public health emergency in the Yanomami Special Indigenous Health District, where P. vivax malaria is particularly prevalent, led to the accelerated approval of tafenoquine in March 2024.

Tafenoquine has now received approvals in Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, Guyana, Peru, the Philippines and the US.

GSK chief global health officer Thomas Breuer stated: “The news underscores GSK’s long-standing commitment to malaria and we are proud that tafenoquine, co-administered with chloroquine, the first radical cure medicine for P. vivax malaria, is now launched in both Brazil and Thailand, taking us another step closer to our shared goal of eliminating malaria.

“Working together with MMV and PATH [the Program for Appropriate Techonology in Health] through the Partnership for Vivax Elimination to optimise this new treatment option has been fundamental to countries being able to introduce this new tool.”

In June 2024 GSK received approval from Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) for Omjjara (momelotinib) to treat patients with myelofibrosis.