Public Health Resources


Date of this Version



Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg., 76(2), 2007, pp. 201–202


Copyright © 2007 by The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene


Primaquine, the only tool in our drug toolbox for preventing relapse of Plasmodium vivax or P. ovale malaria, may be the most enigmatic of the most commonly prescribed drugs today. Despite more than 50 years of continuous use by millions of people each year, we do not understand how it works. Its complex metabolism generates a dozen known metabolites, and none of these has been definitively linked either to its potent activity against hypnozoites or to its hemolytic toxicity to people having an inborn deficiency of glucose-6- phosphate dehydrogenase.