Mumbai-based Nicholas Piramal India
Ltd. will introduce a new anti-malarial drug bulaquine in April 2000. It''s called
Bulaquine is the original research molecule developed by the
Lucknow-based Central Drug Research Institute, or CDRI. It is understood to be a
derivative of primaquine, a drug known to be effective in the treatment of plasmodium
Nicholas Piramal has bagged the marketing rights for the drug and has
agreed to pay one-time know-how fees for technology transfer and a percentage of sales as
royalty to CDRI, say company sources. The drug will be manufactured at Nicholas
Piramals formulation facility at Pithampur in Madhya Pradesh.
The marketing pact is a culmination of an agreement that Nicholas
Piramal had signed with CDRI way back in 1994 for funding anti-malarial research projects,
according to an industry expert.
Bulaquine has been found to be particularly useful against P falciparum
parasite, says a company source. However, its efficacy compared to primaquine is not
Plasmodium falciparum malaria is the most fatal among all types of
malaria. It is responsible for all cases of mortality and most of the morbidity in the
world. Around 2 million cases of P falciparum malaria are reported every year around the
Clinical trials of bulaquine are currently on at four different centres
in India. Nicholas Piramal officials feel that bulaquine has the potential to replace
chloroquine since increasing cases of drug resistance have been reported with chloroquine.
A study carried out by the Clinical Pharmacology and Research Services
Unit of King Edward Medical College, Mumbai, confirmed the existence of chloroquine
resistance in P falciparum cases in Mumbai with five per cent incidence to the full dose
of chloroquine. Medical experts feel resistance to chloroquine may be much higher since
most such cases are not reported.
Moreover, chloroquine is mostly effective against malarial parasites
present in the blood stream and does not tackle parasites present in the liver. This often
leads to relapse, say medical experts.
Bulaquine, on the other hand, is effective in eliminating parasites
present in the liver as well as in the blood stream, says a Nicholas Piramal marketing
Bulaquine is the second anti-malarial product from CDRI. The first was
a plant-based compound, arteether, derived from Artemisia annua. The drug is
marketed under the brand name E Mal.
India''s battle against malaria has seen major ups and down. The disease
was nearly eradicated in the early 1960s but has re-emerged as a major public health
If a shortage of DDT was the major problem with malaria eradication in
the 1960s, the disease''s resurgence in the 1970s was the result of technical, financial
and operational problems, notes V P Sharma in the Indian Journal of Medical Research.
As many as 6.45 million cases of malaria were recorded in 1976 by the National Malaria
Eradication Programme, the highest since its resurgence. Following the implementation of
the Urban Malaria Scheme in 1971-72 and the Modified Plan of Operation in 1977, malaria
cases were reduced to 2 million. However, these two programmes had their impact mainly on
vivax malaria. Since the 1970s P falciparum cases showed a steady upward trend.
In 1977, the Plasmodium falciparum Containment
Programme was launched to contain the spread of falciparum malaria in areas where the
containment programme was operated. But its general spread has not yet been contained.
also see : Malaria menace