Researchers question authenticity of new malaria drug

A new investigation by The Scientist magazine reveals that some researchers believe the anti-malaria drug Malarex has not been adequately tested or, worse still, may be a fraud. The drug, touted by its Canadian manufacturer Millenia Hope as safe and effective, is already approved for sale by five African nations. However, respected researchers point to a serious lack of basic research on this drug, which is based on a herbal remedy.With one million deaths from malaria each year, the quest fo

The Scientist Staff
Dec 8, 2002

A new investigation by The Scientist magazine reveals that some researchers believe the anti-malaria drug Malarex has not been adequately tested or, worse still, may be a fraud. The drug, touted by its Canadian manufacturer Millenia Hope as safe and effective, is already approved for sale by five African nations. However, respected researchers point to a serious lack of basic research on this drug, which is based on a herbal remedy.

With one million deaths from malaria each year, the quest for a successful malaria treatment is urgent. Millenia Hope claims "Malarex could become one of the global leaders in the treatment of malaria." However, there is controversy surrounding studies on Malarex, none of which has appeared in a peer-reviewed journal.

"In my opinion this is a crock," one Canadian malaria expert familiar with Millenia Hope and their research on Malarex told The Scientist. Another malaria researcher suggests that...

"This seems like a financial scam, which probably works very well on unsuspecting stock market gamblers," says Marcel Hommel, editor of Malaria Journal. "If, for the sake of argument, we believe that the drug does not actually exist, the whole thing makes complete sense!"

Despite the apparent lack of evidence that Millenia Hope's Malarex is safe for humans, the company says it has received approval for sale of the drug in five Central African countries and is awaiting word from six more nations.

The investigation by The Scientist magazine uncovered only one human clinical trial of Malarex. The trial involved only 30 patients and has not been published.

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?