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Atovaquone Proguanil is a medication used to both prevent and treat malaria. Malaria is a serious disease that is transmitted via mosquitoes in certain countries. Travellers to these areas, which include sub-Saharan Africa, South America, and many parts of Asia, are advised to take anti-malarial medication such as Atovaquone Proguanil to prevent the illness occurring.
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About Atovaquone Proguanil
- Atovaquone Proguanil refers to the two active ingredients (atovaquone and proguanil) used to prevent malarial infection from occurring
- Atovaquone Proguanil is often known by its trade name Malarone
- Atovaquone Proguanil works by killing P. falciparum, the parasite which causes malaria
- It is also important to protect yourself against mosquito bites by wearing DEET insect repellent, using nets to sleep under, and covering your skin at dusk and dawn
- It is important to read the patient leaflet for a full list of side effects and cautions.
How Does Atovaquone Proguanil Work?
Malaria is a serious disease that can be fatal if left untreated. It is caused by a parasite that is carried by mosquitoes in certain parts of the world. If an infected mosquito bites you, the parasite (most commonly P. falciparum) can be transferred into your blood stream, infecting you with malaria.
Atovaquone Proguanil works by killing P. falciparum. This means that even if you are bitten by an infected mosquito, you will be protected against malaria. When taken correctly, Atovaquone Proguanil prevents around 95% of malaria infections.
It is therefore also important to protect yourself against being bitten by mosquitoes even when you are taking an anti-malarial medication. This includes sleeping beneath a mosquito net, spraying DEET on exposed skin and clothing, using insecticides in your room and covering your skin with loose clothing.
Atovaquone Proguanil is also sometimes used to treat someone who has developed a malaria infection.
How is Atovaquone Proguanil Taken?
Atovaquone Proguanil is available in tablet form. The tablet should be swallowed whole with a drink of water, or for those who have difficulty swallowing tablets, it can be crushed and mixed in condensed milk just before taking it.
The tablet should be taken with a meal as it is less effective when taken on an empty stomach.
You should begin taking the Atovaquone Proguanil tablets 1 to 2 days before you enter the area known to be affected by malaria. Treatment should continue throughout your stay, and then continue for a week (7 days) after returning home (or a week after entering an area not affected by malaria).
Dosage of Atovaquone Proguanil
Each tablet contains 250mg of atovaquone and 100mg proguanil hydrochloride.
For prevention of malaria in adults, one tablet should be taken every day as directed above.
For treatment of malaria, four tablets are usually taken daily for at least three days.
The dosage of Atovaquone Proguanil for children will vary depending on their weight.
Are there any Side Effects?
Like all medications, Atovaquone Proguanil can have some side effects. The most common side effects include:
- Nausea and vomiting (feeling sick and being sick)
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
These side effects are likely to settle down, but if they persist or become troublesome you should speak to your doctor for further advice.
Rarely, more serious side effects can occur. If you experience any of the following you should speak to a doctor straight away.
- Signs of liver problems including yellowing of the whites of the eyes or the skin
- Signs of an infection such as a high temperature, cough, or feeling generally unwell
- Signs of anaemia including pale skin, feeling tired or breathless.
If you have a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) including breathlessness, lip or tongue swelling, call 999 immediately.
Atovaquone Proguanil Warnings
Atovaquone Proguanil may not be suitable for everyone. You should tell your doctor if you:
- Have severe kidney disease
- Take medications for indigestion – you may need to time the dosing of Atovaquone Proguanil carefully
- Take warfarin or another blood thinning medication – you may need to adjust your dose of warfarin and monitor your INR more regularly
- Are pregnant, trying to conceive, or breastfeeding - Atovaquone Proguanil may not be suitable for you.
Some medications can interact with Atovaquone Proguanil. You may be advised that Atovaquone Proguanil will not suit you if you already take:
- Antacids or medications for indigestion
- Another type of anti-malarial medication
- Blood thinning medications including warfarin
- Rifampicin or rifabutin
Because Atovaquone Proguanil may not suit everyone, we will complete a Consultation with you including a health questionnaire. This will ensure that the medication will be suitable for you.
A qualified prescriber will review your current medications, including any herbal remedies or supplements, to ensure that Atovaquone Proguanil will not interact with them.
Once prescribed, Atovaquone Proguanil will be ordered on your behalf via electronic prescription, allowing you to pick the medication up at your convenience.