What is Artemether?
Artemether is a lipid-soluble methyl ether of dihydroartemisinin which has very rapid schizontocidal activity against blood forms of P. falciparum and P. vivax. After intramuscular administration, peak plasma concentrations are attained within about 6 hours.
Artemether has been reported to clear fever in severe falciparum malaria within 30-84 hours.
• Treatment of slide-confirmed severe falciparum malaria in areas where there is evidence that quinine is ineffective. Radical cure should then be effected with a full dose of an effective oral antimalarial such as mefloquine.
Dosage and administration
Adults and children over 6 months: 3.2 mg/kg as a loading dose by intramuscular injection, followed by 1.6 mg/kg daily until the patient is able to tolerate oral medication or for a maximum of 7 days.
Artemether should be used for the treatment of severe falciparum malaria only where there is evidence that the antimalarial efficacy of quinine is declining.
For children, since the injected volumes will be small, it is advisable to use a 1-ml syringe to ensure that the correct dose is given.
Use in pregnancy
Little experience has been gained with the use of this drug in pregnancy but it should not be withheld if it is considered life-saving to the mother.
Neurotoxicity has been observed in animal studies but not in humans.
Cardiotoxicity has been observed following administration of high doses of artemether.
The oily preparation should be stored in tightly closed containers, protected from light.