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    119039

    WHO's decision not to recommend use of artemether in Africa is unethical [letter]

    Ana JN; Gana BM

    BMJ (CLINICAL RESEARCH ED.). 1996 Oct 26; 313(7064):1085.

    Jacqui Wise reports that artemether, the active ingredient of a traditional Chinese remedy for fever, has been found to be as effective as quinine in severe malaria. She states that most deaths from malaria occur in Africa and then quotes Dr. Peter Trigg, a scientist with the World Health Organization's malaria unit, as saying that the WHO appreciates the operational advantages of the new drug in the field but will not "recommend its introduction into Africa because of fears that ... resistance would spread." This decision by the WHO is unethical and unprofessional. The organization is condemning African patients with malaria to the possibility of death even while it is announcing that a new drug has shown better outcomes than occur with quinine. It is incredible that an organization that is part of the United Nations and that is charged with implementing health for all in the world by 2000 should decide to abandon patients to possible death from malaria on the basis of the lame excuse that resistant strains might develop if a new drug was introduced. Would this kind of trial be approved by an ethics committee? Rather than deprive African patients of the benefits of a new drug, the WHO should use its influence and resources to educate the governments and people in Africa about the dangers of misuse of drugs and the emergence of resistant strains of malaria. (full text)
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