Artemether/Lumenfantrine is arguably the most popular antimalarial therapy, an Artemisinin-based combination therapy indicated in treatment for uncomplicated malaria caused by P. falciparum alone or with other Plasmodium spp. There several brands of the drug available in the market and there is a great chance you be prescribed one if you get infected with the malaria parasites.
See below 6 categories of people who must not take Artemether/Lumenfantrine.
1. YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO ANY INGREDIENT IN THE DRUG:
Artemether/Lumenfantrine has been widely used and is generally well tolerated, very serious allergic reaction to this drug is quite rare.
The likely serious allergic reactions includes hives, itching or swelling especially of the face, lips, tongue or throat, fast heart rate, severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
If you develop any of these reactions after taking Artemether/Lumenfantrine , please seek immediate medical attention and avoid taking it after.
2. YOU HAVE LOW BLOOD POTASSIUM OR MAGNESIUM LEVEL
Potassium and magnesium are minerals (electrolyte) important to support several functions in the body. Low level of these minerals can have severe effects on the heart, nerves, kidney and the muscle.
Taking Artemether/Lumenfantrine by patients with low-level of these minerals can potentiate and cause the irregular heartbeat and muscle pains; side effects of the antimalarial be more expressed putting you at risk of severe complications.
One of the major symptoms of low-level of these minerals is weakness, which you may mistake for malaria symptoms. If you feel unwell, please seek medical attention.
Do not self-medicate!!!
3. YOU HAVE VERY SLOW HEARTBEAT OR SEVERE HEART PROBLEMS OR A HISTORY OF A CERTAIN TYPE OF IRREGULAR HEARTBEAT (e.g. QT prolongation).
Use of Artemether/Lumenfantrine is generally contraindicated in patients with heart problems. Because Artemether/Lumenfantrine can trigger slow, fast or pounding irregular heart rhythm, it must totally avoided in this group of people.
It’s expected that your doctor would’ve informed you, if you have any of these heart conditions.
4. YOU ARE TAKING ANY MEDICINE THAT MAY INCREASE THE RISK OF THE IRREGULAR HEARTBEAT.
Common examples of drugs that may increase the risk of this type of irregular heartbeat include- Amitriptyline, Erythromycin (macrolides), Ciprofloxacin (flouroquinolones), Fluconazole (azole antifungals), Phenytoin etc.
Do not take Artemether/Lumenfantrine with the above listed drugs.
Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure if any of your medicines may increase this risk.
5. A FAMILY MEMBER HAS A HISTORY OF IRREGULAR HEARTBEAT OR SUDDEN DEATH.
Probably you have never had any type of heart problems, but there is a history of sudden death in your family or someone in your family had such irregular heartbeat (QT prolongation), Artemether/Lumenfantrine isn’t right for you.
6. YOU HAVE TAKEN OR WILL BE TAKING HALOFANTRINE WITHIN 30 DAYS BEFORE OR AFTER USING ARTEMETHER/LUMENFANTRINE.
Halofantrine (indicated in malaria treatment)
It’s been reported to have cardiac side effects and prolong the QTc interval at therapeutic doses. To prevent a potentiation of these side effects, it’s recommended that the two drugs not be given at close intervals. Failure to do so could be harmful on the body.
Always consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication. Be properly guided!
1. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy
2. EMDEX Vol 1: June 2016 – May 2017 Edition