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What is Amodiaquine?

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  • Written By: Amanda Barnhart
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 08 July 2019
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Amodiaquine is an antimalarial and anti-inflammatory drug widely used in Africa to treat and prevent malaria. The drug works similar to chloroquine, but is more effective in treating a form of malaria known as chloroquine-resistant plasmodium falciparum malaria. Malaria patients treated with amodiaquine also tend to recover more quickly than those who are given chloroquine.

People traveling to Africa and other parts of the world where malaria is common prior to the mid 1980s were sometimes given amodiaquine as a chemoprophylaxis, meaning it was given to prevent the disease, rather than treat an existing infection. During this time, it was discovered that several serious adverse effects were present in many of the people given the drug as a preventative measure. Due to the risk of toxic hepatitis and fatal agranulocytosis, a condition which lowers white blood cell counts to dangerous levels, the drug is no longer administered to prevent malaria.

Amodiaquine can be given to infants and adults to treat malaria infections. The drug is usually given over three days, and the dosage depends on the patient's weight and age. It can be given either as an oral tablet or an intramuscular injection. Injections typically absorb faster than oral tablets, though the drug does absorb well in the gastrointestinal tract.

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It is rare that a patient would receive amodiaquine for more than a few days, but patients who are on the drug for long periods of time should have regular eye exams both during and after treatment. Long-term use of the antimalarial medication can lead to vision problems and deposits on the cornea. In rare cases, extended use can lead to irreversible retinopathy, damage to the eye's retina.

Common side effects associated with amodiaquine include itching, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. In most cases, these side effects are not serious and will subside after concluding treatment with the drug. Some patients taking amodiaquine also experience bradycardia, a slowing of the heart rate, though this side effect is less common than itching and gastrointestinal problems.

Amodiaquine can cause serious damage to the liver. It should not be given to patients with liver-related diseases or those who consume excessive amounts of alcohol unless the risk posed by the infection is greater than the risk of giving the patient the medication. The medication can also cross through the placenta to an unborn fetus, so pregnant women are not usually given the drug unless there is no other viable way to treat the infection.

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