Geneva/New York, January 7, 2015- A malaria drug may have reduced risk of dying among a group of Ebola patients in Liberia during the height of the outbreak in 2014, according to a retrospective study published by the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and its research arm Epicentre, in the New England Journal of Medicine Thursday.
The study found that Ebola patients who were prescribed an antimalarial drug, artesunate-amodiaquine (ASAQ), had a 31 percent lower risk of dying than those who were prescribed the standard first-line antimalarial medicine, artemether-lumefantrine (AL). Antimalarial drugs are part of MSF’s treatment protocol for all suspected Ebola patients. This effect was only discovered when an Ebola treatment centre in Foya, Liberia ran out of AL during the peak of the epidemic in August 2014.
For the two-week stockout period, patients were prescribed ASAQ instead of AL, with no other changes in clinical care. Extensive data analyses excluded other factors—such as age and viral load at admission– that could have affected the risk of death. READ MORE OF THIS ARTICLE