Anti-malarial medication shows promise

Associate Professor Fred Chen

The Lions Eye Institute’s very own Associate Professor Fred Chen was invited by the United States Army to contribute towards a study into the safety of using tafenoquine, a commonly prescribed anti-malarial medication.

Significantly, the study showed tafenoquine was safe to use weekly over a 12-month period. Prior to the study, prescribing information only permitted the use of the medication for up to six months, and independent medical experts had recommended further longer-term studies to rule out any impact on vision.

Associate Professor Chen’s involvement included looking for ophthalmic changes in clinical trials participants over the 12-month period. “The medication can, in theory, cause two eye conditions known as corneal deposit and retinal degeneration,” he says.

“The study showed that corneal deposits were common and reversible with no impact on vision, and that retinal degeneration did not occur after twelve months of dosing.

“These findings are significant as it allows people to use this medication continuously over a 12-month period without the fear of developing retinal degeneration.”

The results of the study mean that travellers to malaria pandemic regions may be able to safely take the anti-malarial medication for twice as long as previously recommended.

Read the paper.

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