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Medications for Malaria

You can take medicine to treat malaria, and you can also take medicine to make it less likely to get the disease.

Malaria is a serious disease that causes high fever, chills, and flu-like symptoms. It can be life-threatening if not treated quickly, and you can get malaria when you visit different parts of the world, especially countries in tropical climates.

Using drugs to prevent sickness is known as prophylactic medicine, and it is a situation where you don’t have the disease, but you’re taking medicine to keep it that way.

Malaria pills aren’t 100% effective in preventing the disease, but the pills should be used with other preventive steps, such as wearing insect repellant, wearing long sleeves, and protecting your sleeping area with a net or similar bed treatment.

Read: Malaria: Symptoms, Handling, And Prevention

Malaria Drugs

The drugs kill malaria parasites when they’re in the liver or red blood cells, putting them in check before they get out of control.

You can still get malaria even if you’ve taken the pills, but taking them cuts your chances of getting sick by about 90%. The drugs are not a vaccine, as there is no global vaccine for malaria yet.

Common malaria drugs include:

Drug name Rx / OTC Preg CSA Alcohol
artemether / lumefantrine Rx C N
Coartem Rx C N
Malarone Rx C N
Plaquenil Rx N N
doxycycline Rx D N X
mefloquine Rx B N
chloroquine Rx N N
atovaquone / proguanil Rx C N
hydroxychloroquine Rx N N
clindamycin Rx B N
Doxy 100 Rx D N X
primaquine Rx N N
Aralen Rx N N
atovaquone Rx C N
Lariam Rx B N
Doryx Rx D N X
Cleocin Rx B N
Vibramycin Rx D N X
Monodox Rx D N X
Cardioquin Rx C N
Morgidox Rx D N X
Vibra-Tabs Rx D N X
Cleocin Pediatric Rx B N
Doryx MPC Rx D N X
Ocudox Rx D N X



Rx=prescription only

Otc= over the counter

C= Pregnancy category: risk cannot be ruled out

B= pregnancy category: no evidence of risk

D= pregnancy category: positive evidence of risks

N= pregnancy category: FDA has not classified the drug

CSA= controlled substance act

N= CSA category: not subject to the act

X    Interacts with alcohol


The 4 major drug classes currently used to treat malaria include:

  • quinoline-related compounds,
  • antifolates,
  • artemisinin derivatives, and
  • antimicrobials

No single drug that can eradicate all forms of the parasite’s life cycle has been manufactured yet. Thus, 1 or more classes of drugs often are given at the same time to combat malarial infection synergistically.

Treatment regimens are dependent on the geographic location of infection, and you should beware of counterfeit antimalarial drugs that may have been purchased overseas or via the Internet.

They may not contain any active ingredients at all and may even contain dangerous materials.



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