United Nations agency appealed in January to all 40 producers to stop
marketing artemisinin monotherapy pills and redirect production to
artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs).
"This group (of 13) includes the main producers of
high-quality artemisinin monotherapies. The companies will now focus
their marketing efforts for malaria primarily on ACTs, in line with WHO
recommendations," the WHO said in a statement.
The 13 companies include Sanofi-Aventis of France and India's
Cipla Ltd, according to Andrea Bosman, a medical officer at WHO's
Malaria, caused by a parasite carried by mosquitoes, kills at
least one million people every year and makes 300 million people
seriously ill. Ninety percent of deaths are in Africa south of the
Sahara, according to the Geneva-based WHO
Using a single-drug artemisinin treatment, or monotherapy,
especially for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria, hastens
development of resistance to artemisinin in malaria parasites, it says.
"Monotherapy was putting a whole class of products at risk of resistance," Bosman told Reuters.
"If we lose ACTs, we won't have an alternate, efficient medicine
for the next 10 years, until there is a new generation of drugs," he
Some 60 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America have
adopted a policy to use ACTs, but only half of them have had the funds
to actually procure the drugs, according to Bosman.
When used correctly in combination with other anti-malarial drugs in
ACTs, artemisinin is nearly 95 percent effective in curing
uncomplicated malaria and the parasite is highly unlikely to become
drug resistant, the WHO said.