Malarone is a type of antimalarial used for the prevention and treatment of malaria. It is highly recommended to purchase antimalarial medication before travelling to a malaria zone as precaution against the spread of the disease.
Malaria is a disease caused by parasites of the plasmodium family. These plasmodium are transferred via mosquito bites and reproduce rapidly in the body, causing the symptoms of malaria. If left undiagnosed or untreated, malaria can be fatal.
Malarone contains the active ingredients atovaquone and proguanil, which work by preventing malaria parasites from reproducing and multiplying in numbers. Malarone works primarily against plasmodium falciparum, which has developed resistance to other antimalarial medicines such as Chloroquine and is the most dangerous strain of malaria. While Malarone provides good protection against malaria, it is not 100% effective; additional precautions should be taken to avoid mosquito bites whilst in a malaria zone.
Malarone is recommended for use in most regions where malaria is known to be prevalent. It is particularly effective in regions where malaria has developed resistance to other antimalarials. Click here to find out which antimalarial is right for your trip.
Although Malarone provides good protection against malaria in most parts of the world, it is important to remember that it is not 100% effective. When travelling in a malaria zone, you should always take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
The active ingredients in Malarone are atovaquone and proguanil hydrochloride.
The inactive ingredients in Malarone are poloxamer 188, microcrystalline cellulose, hydroxypropyl cellulose, povidone K30, sodium starch glycollate (Type A), magnesium stearate, hypromellose, titanium dioxide (E171), iron oxide red (E172), macrogol 400, and polyethylene glycol 8000.
If you forget to take a dose of Malarone, take your next dose as soon as you remember and continue treatment as before. Take extra caution to avoid mosquito bites, but never take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are sick within 1 hour of taking your tablet, take another one straight away. In this instance, remember you may need to purchase additional tablets in order to complete the full course.
It is best to take Malarone with food or a milky drink. This enables your body to better absorb the medication and helps avoid side effects such as nausea or sickness.
Always take Malarone as instructed by a doctor or pharmacist. Take 1 tablet per day with food, at around the same time each day. Start the course of tablets 48 hours (2 days) before entering a malaria zone, and continue for 7 days after your return.
You should start taking Malarone 2 days before your trip, and continue taking it for 7 days after you return to a malaria-free area.
You should take 1 Malarone tablet per day for the duration of the course.
Severe side effects of Malarone are rare. The most common side effects are headaches and stomach upset, which can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea or abdominal cramps. These side effects affect around 1 in 10 people.
If you do experience side effects with Malarone, you can speak to a doctor about whether an alternative antimalarial would be suitable for your travel destination. Most reported side effects are gastrointestinal related and can be avoided by taking Malarone with food - for example, try taking your Malarone tablet with breakfast each day. In fact, Malarone is better absorbed by the body when taken with food. Painkillers such as Paracetamol and Ibuprofen can help with pain caused by headaches.
Like all medications, Malarone can cause side effects in some patients. If your experience any of the following rare but severe side effects, stop taking Malarone and contact a doctor immediately:
Common side effects, which may affect up to 1 in 10 people, include:
Less common side effects (affect up to 1 in 100 people) include:
A very rare side effect which could affect up to 1 in 1,000 patients is hallucinations. The following side effects have been reported by a small number of people, thought their frequency is unknown:
Do NOT take Malarone if you are allergic to any of its active or inactive ingredients or if you have severe kidney disease.
Before taking Malarone, tell your doctor or pharmacist if are taking any other medications, including those purchased over the counter without a prescription. Some medications can alter the effectiveness of Malarone when taken in combination, including:
If you are pregnant, do not take Malarone without the approval of your doctor. Malarone should not be used while breastfeeding.
Alcohol should be drunk with caution whilst taking Malarone, as it can cause dizziness.
There is no evidence to suggest that Malarone affects menstruation.
Malarone has no interactions with contraceptive medication.
One of the benefits of Malarone is that it has less side effects than other antimalarials. The most common side effects are headaches, nausea and sickness, and occur in roughly 1 out of every 10 people.
Alongside antimalarials, the best way to avoid contracting malaria is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Before travelling, invest in an insect repellent containing 50% DEET or higher and take particular care to apply it in the evenings and at night. You can also buy repellents for your accommodation, such as room sprays, electric humidifiers and coils. Where possible. choosing appropriate accommodation can make a huge difference; avoid staying in damp, dark places and stay away from stagnant water sources such as ponds and lakes. Make sure to cover up in the evenings, and buy a mosquito net impregnated with repellent to hang over your bed while you sleep. You can find more tips on mosquito avoidance here.
There are several different types of antimalarial available in the UK, and different types are suitable for different travel destinations. Malarone is suitable for most areas where malaria is known to be prevalent and is particularly useful in those areas where parasites have developed resistance to other antimalarials. It is more expensive than alternatives, but tends to prevent less side effects and is ideal for short trip as you only need to start the course 2 days before travel.
Chloroquine and Mefloquine are more suitable for prolonged trip to malaria zones, as they are only taken once a week. However, these treatments must be started 2 weeks prior to travel and for an additional 4 weeks on return. Unlike other antimalarials, Chloroquine and Mefloquine are suitable in pregnant women of all trimesters.
The other alternative is Doxycycline, an antibiotic that acts as a preventative against malaria in some parts of the world. It is a cheaper alternative to other antimalarials but unfortunately has more known side effects including sensitivity to sunlight, which can be problematic for some travellers.
Malarone is provided by the NHS in very rare cases where the patient has specific medical needs. Malarone is not available on the NHS for travel purposes and instead should be purchased from a doctor with a private prescription
When taken correctly, Malarone provides good protection against malaria. However, it is not 100% effective so it is important to take measures to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes whilst in a malaria zone.
Malarone should be purchased in advance of travelling to a malaria zone, as the course of treatment needs to be started 48 hours before entering the zone.
As well as acting as a preventative, Malarone can be also be used to treat malaria, although such treatment will be overseen in a hospital. For treatment of malaria, the dosage of malarone is intensified, usually to 4 tablets taken once a day for 3 days. However, if you have been taking Malarone for preventative purposes and have contracted malaria regardless, Malarone will not work as a treatment. It is vital to inform doctors of which antimalarial you were using prior to contracting the disease.
Malarone is not recommended for malaria prevention in children. A paediatric variant is available but cannot be purchased from Dr Felix.