Ranbaxy launches new anti-malarial drug

It has an efficacy rate of over 95 per cent, claims company

By Sonal Matharu
Published: Thursday 26 April 2012

The Indian drug manufacturing company Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited launched a new anti-malarial drug, Synriam on the occasion of World Malaria Day on April 25.

The drug, a combination of arterolane maleate 150 mg and piperaquine phosphate 750 mg, is now available in the market. An adult suffering from malaria will need only one tablet a day for three days. In case of other malaria medicines two to four tablets are required, twice daily for three or more days. The new drug regime will lead to better compliance, says Ranbaxy.

The company is working on dosage for children. A pack of three tablets will cost Rs 130. The drug is also independent of fatty foods or milk restrictions, unlike other anti-malarial therapies.

“The drug can be chemically synthesised. Therefore, there will be no problem in its production in sufficient quantities,” said Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad while launching it.
Ranbaxy was earlier working on an anti-malarial drug in partnership with international non-profit Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV). But the deal was called off in 2009. Synriam is a new molecule, confirms the company spokesperson.

Malaria spreads through the bite of the infected female anopheles mosquito. There are four types of malarial parasites, of which Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax are the most common. Plasmodium falciparum accounts for about 90 per cent of the deaths caused due to malaria.

Traditional drugs are proving ineffective because the deadly malarial parasite has acquired resistance to available drugs. Availability of plant-based Artemesinin, a primary ingredient in established anti-malarial therapies is finite and unreliable. This leads to price fluctuations and supply constraints. There was a critical need for a new anti-malaria drug that would address these challenges, a note from Ranbaxy says.

India accounts for over 75 per cent of the 2.5 million reported cases of malaria in Southeast Asia. More than two-thirds of the population lives in the malaria-affected parts of the country. According to WHO, 15,000 people die annually due to malaria in India whereas medical journal Lancet says that 205,000 Indians die of malaria annually. Around 117 districts in India are chloroquine resistant. Due to chloroquine resistance in falciparum malaria, the national programme advised the treatment to be changed to Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) since 2010.

Currently, Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Northeastern states, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh contribute bulk of malaria cases in India. Urban areas also contribute to malaria cases due to poor civic cleanliness, says Azad.

Ranbaxy took over eight years to develop Synriam. The drug has a cure rate of over 95 per cent. It has been approved by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) after trials were conducted in partnerships with medical colleges and hospitals in Odisha, Karnataka and Jharkhand and the National Institute of Malaria Research of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Trials were also conducted in Africa and Thailand. It also follows the WHO recommendations for using combination therapy in malaria.

Ranbaxy got part of financial support from the Department of Science and Technology under the Union ministry of chemicals and fertilisers for the drug discovery. 


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