What anti-malaria tablets are the best?
Find out more about over the counter malaria tablets
In the UK, most anti-malaria tablets (or antimalarials) must be obtained with a prescription. This means that if you are travelling to a part of the world where malaria is prevalent and the risk of contracting the disease is high, you will usually need to book an appointment with a doctor or nurse.
Currently, only two anti-malaria tablets are available in the UK without a prescription: maloff Protect, and chloroquine/proguanil. To find out more about these over-the-counter antimalarials, and whether they may be suitable for your trip, read on.
One of the antimalarials currently available without a prescription in the UK is maloff protect. This is a generic version of malarone (a prescription anti-malaria tablet). It contains the same active ingredients as malarone, atovaquone and proguanil, in exactly the same doses. In combination, these two medications offer good protection against the most dangerous and widespread malaria parasite, plasmodium falciparum.
Maloff protect has been made available over the counter to make access easier for British people travelling to malaria zones. To ensure that it is taken correctly, travellers obtaining maloff protect in pharmacies without a prescription will have to consult the pharmacist before a sale is made.
If you require anti-malaria tablets for a trip, and you are interested in obtaining maloff protect over the counter, it’s still recommended that you meet with a medical professional to discuss your travel health needs. In addition to offering guidance about malaria, and mosquito bite avoidance, they will also be able to advise you on any travel vaccinations you may need.Who can obtain maloff protect without a prescription?
You can buy maloff protect without a prescription in high street pharmacies if you:
- Are over 18
- Weigh more than 40kg
However, some other restrictions apply in certain circumstances. Maloff protect is not safe to take if you are allergic to any of the ingredients, or if you have liver or kidney disease.
It is also usually unsuitable for:
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Anyone who has suffered from epilepsy or fits
- Anyone who has depression
- Anyone who has tuberculosis
If you fall into one of the four categories above, you may still be able to take maloff protect (or a similar medicine) but it is not recommended that you obtain it over the counter. You should make an appointment with a doctor to discuss your options; in most cases, an alternative treatment will be recommended.
Maloff protect can interact negatively with certain medications. For a list of medicines which prohibit the use of Maloff Protect, click here.
The second type of antimalarial course that you can obtain without a prescription in the UK contains chloroquine and proguanil.
While atovaquone and proguanil (the active ingredients of maloff) give good protection against the most common and dangerous forms of malaria, the combination of chloroquine and proguanil tends to be much less effective. Chloroquine/proguanil is still used in certain parts of the world, but it’s advised that you speak to a medical professional before buying these tablets to make sure that they will keep you protected.
There are certain destinations where chloroquine/proguanil tablets can offer sufficient protection, but most travellers visiting a malaria zone will require a different antimalarial.
Who can obtain chloroquine/proguanil without a prescription?
There are no specific restrictions on who can buy chloroquine/proguanil over the counter. However, before you buy them you should check with your doctor or pharmacist that they will provide the required level of protection for the area you are travelling to. Chloroquine/proguanil is no longer recommended for African destinations, as these medicines do not provide sufficient protection against malaria caused by plasmodium falciparum in this part of the world.
Bear in mind that these tablets are not safe for anyone allergic to any of the ingredients.
They may also be unsuitable for people on certain medications, or anyone who has:
- epilepsy or fits
- had problems with the liver or kidneys
- a history or a family history of porphyria
- myasthenia gravis
- glucose-6-phospate dehydrogenase deficiency
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding you should discuss your options with your doctor during your travel consultation. Chloroquine/proguanil is usually completely safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women, however some specific guidance is needed to ensure that you and your child stay properly protected.
For children, chloroquine/proguanil is usually safe to take, however the dosage needs to be altered depending upon weight. You should get advice from your doctor about giving antimalarials to your child before you leave the country.
Prescription anti-malaria tablets
Though buying antimalarials over the counter is quicker and more convenient, it is generally safer to obtain them with a prescription. This is because you are required to visit a doctor or nurse to discuss your travel plans with them in detail.
The main types of anti-malaria tablets available by prescription in the UK are:
- Atovaquone and proguanil (e.g. malarone)
- Mefloquine (lariam)
To order prescription antimalarials, make an appointment with MASTA Travel Health or visit the LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor malaria clinic.
What are the different antimalarial options?
Antimalarials are available as tablets and capsules and they can be bought over the counter in your local pharmacy, or prescribed by your GP or a service like our Online Doctor. Read on to find out about the different options available to you that can help prevent and treat malaria.
How often should you take malaria tablets?
Every malaria tablet has a specified dosage and frequency that you can find on the packaging or in the patient information leaflet. Typically, you should take one tablet every day, however this can change depending on the type of medication you are taking.
See the table below to find out how often you should take the most common types of antimalarial medication:
Before travel, ensure treatment is started within:
Whilst away (adults)
Continued use after travel
Atoquone plus proguanil
|1-2 days||1 a day||7 days|
|2 days||100mg a day||4 weeks|
|3 weeks||1 tablet weekly||4 weeks|
|1-2 days||1 a day||7 days|
How long should you continue to take malaria tablets?
The dosage and treatment length will depend on the type and brand of antimalarial tablets that you have been prescribed or bought over the counter. It is important that you read the patient leaflet then stick to the stated dosage and take the tablets for the stated amount of time.
Many antimalarials, including atovaquone plus proguanil, should be taken 1-2 days before you travel and then every day whilst you are in a malaria zone, plus a week after you return (whereas other medications need to be taken up to a month after you return home).
Safely buy malaria tablets online
When buying malaria pills online, you should always look for websites that feature a registered pharmacy logo, NHS logo or MHRA logo – the majority of online providers should be regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), with recent reports visible on the main page. This means that the pharmacy is operating safely and legally, and that the medicines and malaria treatments you want to buy are safe to do so. If you’re unsure, you can always visit your local pharmacist to talk through your options for your upcoming holiday.