Aralen® is the brand name of a medication mainly used to treat or prevent malaria. In some instances, the drug is referred to by its generic name, chloroquine. Aralen® is usually manufactured as a white, bitter, odorless pill meant for oral administration. In some cases, the medication is administered by injection.
Aralen® was discovered in 1934 by German physician Hans Andersag, who called it "Resochin." The medication did not initially achieve widespread use, mainly because of its stigma as a highly toxic drug. That fearful reputation eventually wore off after the United States government sponsored a series of clinical tests to develop prophylactic medications for malaria. Aralen® officially entered into use in clinical practice in 1947.
Malaria is caused by the protozoan parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which is transmitted by the female Anopheles mosquito. Aralen® works by stopping the parasite's normal metabolism, thus killing it. Each Aralen® pill represents 500 milligrams of chloroquine phosphate. Doctors usually recommend that adults take up to 2.5 grams within a three-day period, with lesser doses for younger patients and adults with a relatively low body weight.
Although it is most closely associated with malaria, people can also use Aralen® for other infectious conditions. One such ailment is extraintestinal amebiasis. Like malaria, it is caused by a protozoan parasite, the amoeba Entamoeba histolytica. Additionally, researchers have studied Aralen® as a possible drug against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Chikungunya, viruses linked to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and Chikungunya fever, respectively.
Some people who take Aralen® may experience side effects such as loss of appetite, dizziness, headaches, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting or stomach cramps. With more severe side effects such as allergic reactions, breathing difficulties, swelling of certain body parts, bleeding or hearing loss, patients are advised to see a doctor immediately. Some Aralen®-induced side effects vary in intensity based on certain factors. For instance, itching is more common among black African and older patients. People with vision problems or allergies, or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are strongly discouraged from taking the drug.
People who wish to take Aralen® need to tell their healthcare providers if they are taking any other medicines, because some medicines tend to adversely interact with the anti-malarial medication. A prime example is cimetidine, which is used for the treatment of heartburn and peptic ulcers. Another is quinacrine, which is commonly used for battling rheumatic arthritis. Cimetidine and quinacrine are two medicines that increase the side effects of Aralen®. Other medications, such as Ampicillin and levothyroxine, which are used to treat bacterial infection and thyroid problems, respectively, are reduced in potency when used with the malaria treatment.