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Malaria tablets available over the counter

WebMD UK Health News Brief
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

14th July 2017 -- Malaria tablets are being made available to buy over the counter from pharmacies, without a prescription from a doctor, for the first time.

However, people planning to travel to areas where malaria is a risk will still need to talk to a pharmacist first.

You don't get malaria in the UK - but people can come home infected with the mosquito-borne disease.

In 2014, 1,586 travellers were diagnosed with malaria after getting back to the UK and there were three deaths.

Pharmacist travel consultation

To make sure the medication is suitable the discussion with a pharmacist should cover the area the person is travelling to, any health conditions they have, and other medications they take.

Advice may also be given on avoiding mosquito bites, use of repellents, nets, and covering up with clothes. A check should also be made of any vaccinations recommended for travel to certain places.

Anti-malaria treatment needs to be started before leaving the UK and should continue for some time after coming home.

The tablets are being made available without prescription and were reclassified following a public consultation by the medicines regulator MHRA.

The Maloff Protect tablets contain atovaquone and proguanil. They are suitable for over-18s weighing over 40kg (6.3 stone).

'Important step forward'

Dr Sarah Branch from the MHRA says in a statement: "Malaria is a very serious disease and taking adequate protection when travelling to malaria infected zones can be life-saving. Today's move to make another antimalarial more widely available will make it easier to access.

"Making more preventative medicines more readily available along with additional healthcare advice for travellers is an important step forward."

She continues: "A full consultation with a healthcare professional is always recommended before you go to places where malaria is prevalent and pharmacists are well placed to help direct travellers to additional sources of information and advice."

Martin Astbury, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, says this means, "people travelling abroad can access the medicine at their convenience and without a prescription from their GP, which would undoubtedly result in better access to protection from malaria.

"Pharmacists already offer a full range of travel advice and in some cases vaccinations. Malaria prevention is a well-established area of expertise for pharmacists and a great opportunity to provide full travel advice to people travelling anywhere in the world. Pharmacists have access to up to date information and resources and are very well equipped to provide this medicine safely and appropriately."

Reviewed on July 14, 2017

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