Coartem (Lumefantrine/Artemether) Dosage and Side Effects
This medication is used to treat malaria in adults and children. The two ingredients in this medication belong to a class of drugs known as antimalarials. Malaria is an infection caused by mosquito bites received while traveling or living in regions of the world where malaria is common. Malaria parasites enter the body, and live in body tissues such as red blood cells or the liver. This medication is used to kill the malaria parasites living inside red blood cells. In some cases, you may need to take a different medication (such as primaquine) to kill the malaria parasites living in the liver. Both treatments may be needed for a complete cure and to avoid the return of infection (relapse). This product is not used to prevent malaria.
Proper Use of this medication
Read the Patient Information Leaflet if available from your pharmacist before you start taking this medication and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions regarding the information, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Take this medication by mouth, with food, exactly as prescribed by your doctor. This medication is usually taken twice a day with a meal for 3 days (6 doses) or as directed by your doctor. On your first day of treatment, take your first dose with food, followed by your second dose 8 hours later. Then each day for the next 2 days, take one dose in the morning and one dose in the evening.
It is important to take every dose of this medication with food or milk, infant formula, pudding, porridge, or broth. Food helps this medication work better. Tell your doctor if you are unable to eat.
If you or your child cannot swallow tablets, the artemether/lumefantrine tablets may be crushed and mixed with one or two teaspoons (5 to 10 milliliters) of water in a clean container at the time your dose is due. Do not crush tablets or mix with water in advance. Follow the dose of medication with food or drink (such as whole milk, formula, pudding, broth, or porridge).
If you or your child vomits within 1 to 2 hours of taking this drug, repeat this dose and contact your doctor right away. You will need to make sure you have enough tablets to complete your full course of therapy. If you vomit 2 doses, you may need to be treated with a different medication.
The dosage is based on your medical condition, weight, and response to treatment.
It is very important to continue taking this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take more or less of this drug than prescribed. Do not skip any doses. Continue to take this medication until the full prescribed amount is finished, even if symptoms disappear after a few doses. Skipping doses or stopping the medication too early may make the infection more difficult to treat and result in a return of the infection.
This medication works best when the amount of drug in your body is kept at a constant level. Therefore, take this drug at evenly spaced intervals. To help you remember, take it at the same times each day.
Avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while using this medication unless your doctor instructs you otherwise. Grapefruit can increase the amount of this medication in your bloodstream. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
Seek immediate medical attention if your symptoms of malaria (such as fever, chills, headache, other flu-like symptoms), persist or worsen after 1 to 2 days of taking this medication. If your fever returns after completing this prescription, contact your doctor so that he/she can determine whether the malaria has returned. Quick treatment of malaria is needed to prevent serious, possibly fatal, outcomes.
Headache, dizziness, loss of appetite, weakness, fever, chills, tiredness, muscle/joint pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, cough, and trouble sleeping may occur. If any of these effects persist after stopping the medication or if these effects worsen while taking this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Seek immediate medical attention if any of these rare but very serious side effects occur: chest pain, severe dizziness, fainting, fast/irregular/pounding heartbeat.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
Warnings and Precautions
Before taking artemether/lumefantrine, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to artemether or lumefantrine; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: recent use (within the past month) of any medication to prevent or treat malaria (such as halofantrine, quinine, or quinidine), kidney problems, liver problems.
Artemether/lumefantrine may cause a condition that affects the heart rhythm (QT prolongation). QT prolongation can rarely cause serious (rarely fatal) fast/irregular heartbeat and other symptoms (such as severe dizziness, fainting) that need medical attention right away.
The risk of QT prolongation may be increased if you have certain medical conditions or are taking other drugs that may cause QT prolongation. Before using artemether/lumefantrine, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the drugs you take and if you have any of the following conditions: certain heart problems (heart failure, slow heartbeat, QT prolongation in the EKG), family history of certain heart problems (QT prolongation in the EKG, sudden cardiac death).
Low levels of potassium or magnesium in the blood may also increase your risk of QT prolongation. This risk may increase if you use certain drugs (such as diuretics/"water pills") or if you have conditions such as severe sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting. Talk to your doctor about using artemether/lumefantrine safely.
This medication may make you dizzy, or cause you to feel tired, or weak. Do not drive, use machinery, or perform any activity that requires alertness until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Limit alcoholic beverages.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially QT prolongation (see above).
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
It is unknown if this medication passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Interactions with this medication
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take for malaria within the 4 weeks before, during, and after treatment with artemether/lumefantrine. Some antimalarial drugs (such as halofantrine) should not be used within one month of treatment with artemether/lumefantrine. In some cases a serious (possibly fatal) drug interaction may occur.
Many drugs besides artemether/lumefantrine may affect the heart rhythm (QT prolongation), including other antimalarial drugs (such as quinine, quinidine), antiarrhythmic drugs (such as amiodarone, sotalol, procainamide, disopyramide), antipsychotics (such as pimozide, ziprasidone), macrolide antibiotics (such as erythromycin), quinolone antibiotics (such as ciprofloxacin, moxifloxacin), among others.
Other medications can affect the removal of artemether/lumefantrine from your body, which may affect how this product works. Examples include some anti-seizure drugs (such as carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin), azole antifungals (such as ketoconazole, itraconazole), mefloquine, HIV NNRTIs (such as delavirdine, efavirenz), HIV protease inhibitors (such as nelfinavir, ritonavir), rifamycins (such as rifabutin, rifampin), St. John's wort, among others.
This medication can speed up or slow down the removal of other medications from your body, which may affect how they work. Examples of affected drugs include flecainide, certain beta blockers such as metoprolol, certain tricyclic antidepressants (such as amitriptyline and imipramine), among others.
This medication may decrease the effectiveness of hormonal birth control such as pills, patch, or ring. This could cause pregnancy. Discuss with your doctor or pharmacist if you should use additional reliable birth control methods while using this medication. Also tell your doctor if you have any new spotting or breakthrough bleeding, because these may be signs that your birth control is not working well.
Other related products
The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.