Updated on 2 July 2012
Malarial burden has increased both globally and in India due to the resistance developed to anti-malarial medicine
The current anti-malarial market in India is approximately $80 million (Rs 450 crore) with an annual growth rate of 17 percent, says a report by ORG IMS in Nov 2011. According to statistics available with the directorate of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), close to 12 lakh cases of malaria have been reported in India till December 2011. Out of them, 436 have been cases of deaths.
Around 50 percent (6.4 lakh cases) were caused by the single-celled parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Increasing drug resistance is a possible cause for the continued rise in cases of P. falciparum caused malaria in recent years, gradually increasing from 39 percent in 1995 to above 50 percent in 2008.
With P. falciparum, which causes the most dangerous forms of the disease, becoming resistant to the drug chloroquine, Artemisinin-based treatments have become popular. Globally, the number of courses of Artemisinin-based therapies (ACT) procured by the public sector jumped nearly seven-fold between 2005 and 2006, and then more than doubled, reaching 181 million, in 2010, according to the World Malaria Report 2011. The demand for these drugs was around 287 million treatments in 2011 and is expected to touch 295 million courses in 2012.
Resistance causes worry
The malarial burden has increased both globally and in India due to the resistance developed to anti-malarial medicine used so far. For instance, child mortality in Africa increased as P. falciparum strains that were resistant to chloroquine spread in the continent in the 1970s and the 1980s. Raising an important issue of possible artemisinin resistance, Dr Virander S Chauhan, director, International Centre for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology (ICGEB), says, "There have been reports of resistance in Cambodia, Thailand and, if it reaches Burma and the Northeastern part of India, then things can get very messy."