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Maloff malaria tablets side effects

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What is maloff protect?

Maloff protect is a malaria tablet that can be taken in high-risk parts of the world to protect against malaria. Unlike other antimalarials such as doxycycline and malarone, maloff protect is available over the counter in high street pharmacies such as LloydsPharmacy.

Is maloff protect the same as malarone?

Maloff protect contains the same active ingredients (atovaquone and proguanil) as malarone in the same doses. These two medicines offer good protection against the most common and dangerous types of malaria. The key difference is that maloff protect is available to buy over the counter in high street pharmacies, while malarone must be obtained with a prescription.

As a result, many travellers may find that maloff protect is the more convenient option.

However, because no antimalarial tablets can offer 100% protection, you should take steps to avoid getting bitten when you are in a malaria zone, even if you are taking maloff protect or another malaria tablet.

Can maloff be bought over the counter?

Usually when you need antimalarials you have to visit a doctor for a prescription. Antimalarial tablets are not typically available for free on the NHS, which means you have to take your prescription to the pharmacy and pay for your malaria tablets.

With maloff protect, a prescription is not required. This means that you can walk into a pharmacy that stocks maloff protect (such as LloydsPharmacy) and request the tablets. As outlined here, there are a few guidelines related to the sale of Maloff Protect over the counter.

To receive maloff without a prescription in a pharmacy you must:

  • Be over the age of 18
  • Weigh more than 40kg
  • Be travelling to areas where an antimalarial such as maloff protect is needed

When you visit a pharmacy to request maloff protect, you will have to describe your trip to the pharmacist, detailing the destination or destinations you plan to visit. You will also have to be specific about how many days you will be spending in a malaria zone.

  • Are pregnant, possibly pregnant, or breastfeeding
  • Have ever experienced epilepsy or fits
  • Have depression
  • Have tuberculosis
  • Have kidney or liver disease
  • Are allergic to any of its ingredients
  • Are taking certain medications such as warfarin, etoposide, and metoclopramide

If you fall into any of the categories above, you should not try to obtain maloff protect over the counter before consulting a doctor. It may still be possible to obtain a prescription for maloff protect, but it’s more likely that you will be directed towards other malaria tablets or preventative techniques.

For a comprehensive list of circumstances under which maloff protect cannot be obtained over the counter, click here.

How do you take maloff protect?

If you are using maloff protect, you should take one tablet, preferably at the same time, every single day when you are in a malaria zone. You should begin taking maloff protect one or two days before you arrive, and for seven days after you leave the malaria zone; failing to take the complete course could leave you more susceptible to the disease.

When maloff protect is taken correctly, most people experience no side effects. However, as with any medication, some side effects are possible. Most of these are mild and pass fairly quickly; some can be more serious, although these are rare.

It’s recommended that you book a travel consultation with a doctor or nurse before you leave the country. You can book a travel consultation to discuss malaria and malaria tablets through both MASTA and LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor.

If you’re considering using maloff protect, read on to find out more about the potential side effects.

Common side effects of maloff

As detailed in the patient information leaflet for maloff protect, common or very common side effects are considered to be those affecting one or more than one person in 10. These side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unusual dreams
  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Cough
  • Itchy skin
  • Allergic reaction

A number of side effects included within this category may not be immediately noticeable, however they could show up in blood tests. If you have a blood test while taking maloff protect, or soon after you have finished a course, your doctor may find:

  • Anaemia (reduced numbers of red blood cells)
  • Neutropenia (reduced numbers of white blood cells)
  • Hyponatraemia (low levels of sodium)
  • Increased numbers of liver enzymes

Anaemia can cause tiredness, headaches, and shortness of breath, while neutropenia can make your more susceptible to infection.

Severe reactions

The first thing to be aware of is that, in very rare cases, maloff protect can cause a severe reaction, characterised by symptoms such as:

  • Skin rashes, blisters, and itching
  • Wheezing and difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the eyes, lips, tongue, and other body parts

It is unlikely that you will have a severe, instantaneous reaction to maloff protect but if you do you should seek medical help immediately.

Uncommon side effects

Uncommon side effects associated with maloff protect are those affecting up to one in 100 people. These include:

  • Anxiety
  • Heart palpitations
  • Redness and swelling in and around the mouth
  • Hives (itchy, raised rash on the skin)
  • Hair loss

In a blood test, your doctor may also notice an increase in amylase, which is an enzyme produced by the pancreas.

Rare side effects

It’s thought that up to one in 1,000 people who take maloff protect are affected by hallucinations i.e. seeing or hearing things that aren’t there.*

A number of other rare side effects have been reported, however the risk of these occurring is not precisely known. These side effects can include inflammation of the liver, panic attacks, mouth ulcers, and peeling skin. For a full list, refer to the information leaflet that is supplied with your medicine.

What should I do if I experience side effects from maloff protect?

As explained previously, if you have a severe reaction to maloff protect you should immediately seek medical attention and avoid taking it in the future.

Any side effects that you experience should be reported to your doctor or pharmacist; they will be able to give you advice on what to do. Reporting side effects will also be helpful in making the medicine safer to take in the future. You can report side effects directly to the Yellow Card website, however you should also get advice from a medical professional.

It is generally recommended that you keep taking maloff protect as directed by your doctor or pharmacist, unless you start experiencing serious side effects. Malaria can be fatal, so if you stop taking maloff protect you will need to ensure that you are well protected while travelling through any high-risk zones.

You should practise mosquito bite avoidance when you are in a malaria zone, whether or not you are taking maloff protect or another antimalarial. However, if you have to stop taking your malaria tablets due to side effects, you should be even more cautious about not getting bitten.

Insect bite avoidance techniques

The most important thing to ask a medical professional about before entering a malaria zone is bite avoidance. Your doctor or nurse will be able to give you clear guidance on how to protect yourself from mosquito bites. This should be the top priority for travellers, as antimalarials cannot offer full protection on their own. Many other mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever can also be prevalent in areas where malaria is found, which means avoiding mosquito bites is incredibly important.

The following can help you to avoid insect bites:

  • Using mosquito repellent on exposed areas of skin. Repellents containing DEET are usually thought to be the most effective, however good alternatives include lemon eucalyptus and icaridin. Citronella is not an effective mosquito repellent, and should not be used in place of other repellents.
  • Wearing long-sleeved tops and trousers.
  • Taking extra care to cover your skin between dusk and dawn, as this is when the mosquitoes that carry malaria are most active.
  • Sleeping under a mosquito net covered in mosquito repellent, particularly if you are in basic accommodation.
  • Booking accommodation with air conditioning and insect screens on the windows and doors.
  • Using plug-in insecticides.
 

References

www.maloffprotect.co.uk/how-maloff-protect-works
www.who.int/features/factfiles/malaria/en/
www.who.int/malaria/publications/world-malaria-report-2017/en/
www.gov.uk/government/news/maloff-protect-antimalarial-tablets-to-be-available-to-buy-from-pharmacies