Coartem for Malaria

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Coartem for Malaria


Generic NameBrand Name
artemether and lumefantrine Coartem

Coartem is taken as a tablet.

How It Works

Coartem kills malaria parasites in the blood.

To treat malaria, adults take Coartem daily for 3 days in a row.1

Why It Is Used

Coartem is used to treat malaria. It is not used to prevent malaria in travelers to areas where malaria is common.

How Well It Works

Coartem is very effective at treating malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum, including infections acquired in areas with drug-resistant strains.1

Coartem was more effective than quinine at treating malaria in children in Uganda.2

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you:

  • Faint.
  • Have trouble breathing.
  • Have swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor right away if you have:

  • Hives.
  • A racing heart or another type of change in your heart rhythm.

Common side effects of Coartem include:

  • Headache and dizziness.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • A cough.
  • Muscle and joint pain.
  • Sleep problems.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Coartem should be taken with food. If it is not taken with food, it may be less effective for treating malaria.

People who have some heart-rhythm problems should not take Coartem.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.


Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Artemether-lumefantrine (Coartem) for treatment of malaria (2009). Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics, 51(1321): 75–76.
  2. Achan J, et al. (2009). Effectiveness of quinine versus artemether-lumefantrine for treating uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Ugandan children: Randomised trial. BMJ, 339: b2763.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerW. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
Last RevisedMay 14, 2012

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