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Artesunate (Intravenous)

Uses for artesunate

Artesunate injection is used to treat severe malaria. Artesunate is also used together with other medicines (eg, 8-aminoquinoline medicine) to treat severe malaria caused by Plasmodium ovale or Plasmodium vivax.

Artesunate belongs to a group of medicines known as antimalarials. It treats malaria, a red blood cell infection transmitted by the bite of a mosquito. However, artesunate is not used to prevent malaria.

Artesunate is to be given only by or under the immediate supervision of your doctor.

Before using artesunate

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For artesunate, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to artesunate or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Pediatric

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of artesunate injection in children.

Geriatric

Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of artesunate injection in the elderly.

Breastfeeding

There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.

Interactions with medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are receiving artesunate, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using artesunate with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Carbamazepine

Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other medical problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of artesunate. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Kidney disease or
  • Liver disease—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.

Proper use of artesunate

A nurse or other trained health professional will give you artesunate in a medical facility. It is given through a needle placed into one of your veins. It must be given slowly, so the needle will have to stay in place for 1 to 2 minutes.

Your doctor will give you a few doses of artesunate until your condition improves, and then switch you to an oral medicine that works the same way. If you have any questions about this, talk to your doctor.

Precautions while using artesunate

It is very important that your doctor check your or your child's progress at regular visits to make sure that artesunate is working properly. Blood tests may be needed for 4 weeks after treatment with artesunate to check for unwanted effects (eg, delayed hemolysis).

Blood problems (eg, hemolytic anemia) may occur after you receive treatment with artesunate. Check with your doctor right away if you or your child have back, leg, or stomach pains, bleeding gums, chills, dark urine, difficulty breathing, fever, general body swelling, headache, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, nosebleeds, pale skin, sore throat, unusual tiredness or weakness, or yellow eyes or skin.

Artesunate may cause a serious allergic reaction, including anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening. Call your doctor right away if you or your child have blurred vision, chest tightness, confusion, cough, dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position, hoarseness, redness of the skin, skin rash, itching, hives or welts, sweating, swelling of your hands, face, or mouth, trouble breathing or swallowing, or unusual tiredness or weakness after you receive artesunate.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

Artesunate side effects

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

More common

  • Agitation
  • clay-colored stools
  • coma
  • confusion
  • dark urine
  • decreased urine output
  • depression
  • dizziness
  • fever
  • headache
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle twitching
  • nausea or vomiting
  • rapid weight gain
  • seizures
  • skin rash or itching
  • stomach pain
  • stupor
  • swelling of the face, ankles, or hands
  • unpleasant breath odor
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • vomiting of blood
  • yellow eyes or skin

Incidence not known

  • Back, leg, or stomach pains
  • bleeding gums
  • bloating
  • blurred vision
  • chest tightness
  • chills
  • constipation
  • cough
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
  • fast heartbeat
  • general body swelling
  • hives or welts
  • hoarseness
  • indigestion
  • nosebleeds
  • pale skin
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • redness of the skin
  • sore throat
  • sweating
  • trouble breathing or swallowing

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.