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Herbal Treatment For Malaria in Short Supply

You may remember a blog I posted a few months ago about artemisinin, a natural, quite effective and very inexpensive treatment for malaria. largely ignored by Western health agencies until this year. Evidently, many more people have discovered this natural remedy too: The rising demand has created a critical shortfall.

As a result, prices for artemisinin -- extracted from the sweet wormwood plant -- have quadrupled, and the few companies that make compounds containing it have drastically cut back production.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the shortage has created a shockwave, largely because a number of countries recently began using artemisinin. Even though other drugs that fight malaria are available, making a switch takes a year and can be problematic in poorer countries, due to registrations, retraining and restocking.

The shortage began in April when artemisinin was identified by a number of agencies including WHO to replace older drugs. Before the forecast, a pound of artemisinin costs $115. After the meeting, however, the price of artemisinin tripled to some $450 a pound.

New York Times November 14, 2004

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