Proguanil, known by the brand name Malarone®, is an antimalarial drug used in the prevention and treatment of malaria, a parasitic infection transmitted by mosquitoes. This drug is usually used in combination therapy with another antimalarial medication and must be taken precisely as directed. In addition, patients using this drug as a prophylactic are usually advised to take some additional precautions to reduce their risk of exposure to malaria parasites.
This drug acts on parasitic organisms in the bloodstream, inhibiting the function of an enzyme needed for reproduction. People taking the drug for malaria prevention rely on the trace amounts in the body to prevent reproduction of parasites if they are bitten by an infected mosquito, thus preventing the development of a malaria infection. In patients with malaria, the drug is used to manage the population of parasites in the blood in combination with another drug to eradicate them.
Doctors prescribe proguanil to travelers in regions where malaria is endemic, along with residents of such regions. As with other prophylactic antimalarials, if people do not follow the dosage instructions, they may endanger themselves. Missing doses or not taking the medication for the allotted amount of time can make people vulnerable to infection. It is also important to take the companion drug or drugs in multidrug therapy, and to receive ample supplies of medication to avoid running out at an inopportune time.
Patients on proguanil sometimes notice some personality changes, usually depression and anxiety. These are normal, but if patients develop severe symptoms or start experiencing issues like sleeplessness, fever, and diarrhea, they should consult their doctors. Bad drug reactions can happen and it may be necessary to try another medication or adjust the dosage. Alternative drugs for both treatment and prevention of malaria are available, although they may be more expensive or difficult to obtain, depending on where a patient is located.
Patients preparing to take proguanil should also make sure their doctors know their complete medical history, including all medications they are taking. This drug can be dangerous for people with certain medical issues, like liver failure, and it can also react badly with some drugs, such as certain classes of antibiotics. These reactions can vary, from rendering other medications ineffective to causing unpleasant symptoms for the patient. Specific concerns can be brought up with a doctor or pharmacist, and it is advisable to read the package insert to get informed about the drug before starting a course of proguanil.