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Von-Schoen Angerer and others worry the tendency to over-treat malaria, as proven by the Lancet study, will be worsened by the strategy. They fear it will flood the market with drugs that promote resistance.
The initiative, led by WHO and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, will subsidize the price of artemesinin combination therapies, the most effective malaria treatments.
But the U.N. has not insisted the drugs be combined in a single pill, which would curb the resistance risk.
Artemesinin combination therapies are also sold as several pills. Some cause side effects like nausea, and patients commonly throw those pills out, encouraging resistance.
"The risk of resistance is very scary," von-Schoen Angerer said. "We don't have a back-up medicine at this stage."
Richard Tren, director of the nonprofit Africa Fighting Malaria, called the U.N. initiative "an untested experiment," and warned the strategy could backfire.
"We need policies based on evidence," he said. "And the evidence this could work is pretty shaky."
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