Approval of Tafenoquine for Malaria Chemoprophylaxis

Jonathan D. Berman Fast Track Drugs and Biologics, North Potomac, Maryland

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Malaria chemoprophylaxis has become increasingly prominent now that it is used for vulnerable populations in endemic regions in addition to nonimmune travelers to those regions. The objective would be a drug with > 95% efficacy and that is easily tolerated, including in children and pregnant women. For individuals who prefer weekly rather than daily drug administration, a further objective is a product that is administered weekly. The deficiencies of present agents are parasite resistance to chloroquine, neuropsychiatric liability of mefloquine, the need for daily dosing for atovaquone–proguanil, and daily dosing plus adverse reactions for doxycycline. A primaquine analogue, tafenoquine, has a 17-day half-life and was approved for weekly prophylaxis in the United States and in Australia in 2018. Weekly tafenoquine was equal to mefloquine in efficacy in nonimmunes. The tafenoquine label contains a contraindication for preexisting psychosis, but not for the broad number of other neuropsychiatric disorders which are listed as contraindications in the mefloquine label. As an 8-aminoquinoline, tafenoquine is contraindicated for glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD)-deficient persons or in pregnancy if the fetus might be G6PD deficient. Other possible significant adverse reactions for tafenoquine are declines in hemoglobin levels reported in some G6PD-normal patients, asymptomatic elevations in methemoglobin, and minor psychiatric events. The lack of broad neuropsychiatric adverse reactions suggests that tafenoquine may have a role as the weekly prophylactic of choice for G6PD-normal persons.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Jonathan D. Berman, Fast Track Drugs and Biologics, 5 Paramus Ct., North Potomac, MD 20878.E-mail:jberman@fasttrackresearch.com

Disclosure: J. D. B. is under contract as consultant with the U.S. Army to aid in tafenoquine registration applications, and has submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest.

Author’s address: Jonathan D. Berman, Fast Track Drugs and Biologics, North Potomac, MD, E-mail: jberman@fasttrackresearch.com.

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