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An expanding risk and range of endemic malaria threatens travelers. Primaquine is an old drug recently demonstrated to offer effective prophylaxis. Clinical trials conducted in Indonesia, Kenya, and Colombia showed that a primaquine base (30 mg per day) had protective efficacy against Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax of 85%-93%. Among 339 children (age, >8 years) and adults taking this regimen for 12-52 weeks, there was no greater risk of adverse symptomatic events among primaquine users than among recipients of placebo in double-blind studies. Among 151 subjects evaluated after 20 or 52 weeks of daily primaquine therapy, methemoglobinemia was found to be mild (<13%; typically <6%) and transient (duration, <2 weeks). We consider primaquine base (0.5 mg/kg per day consumed with food) to be safe, well-tolerated, and effective prophylaxis against malaria for nonpregnant persons and those with normal glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase levels. Primaquine's major advantage over most drugs for chemoprophylaxis is that it does not have to be taken before entering or beyond 3 days after leaving a malarious area.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Infect Dis

Publication Date





1659 - 1667


Adult, Animals, Antimalarials, Chemoprevention, Clinical Trials as Topic, Drug Tolerance, Humans, Malaria, Falciparum, Malaria, Vivax, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Primaquine, Travel