Are these anti-malaria (malarone) pills safe to take overseas?
July 8, 2010 1:18 PM   Subscribe

TravelFilter: When does Malarone (anti-malaria medication) expire?

I have some tablets from a trip to India that I would like to bring with me for to Indonesia for Aug 2010 - Aug 2011. They were filled January 2008. The label has rubbed off the bottle so I cannot determine the expiry date. Can anyone tell me if these pills are still safe and effective? New pills cost about $5 each, so if they are probably fine then it will be a big money saver!

Also, should I have a pharmacy replace the label for me (do they even do that?)
posted by ageispolis to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
Response by poster: I should also mention that they travelled around in a humid climate for about six months in 2008. (Although they were stowed in a dry and dark pocket at the bottom of my bag.)
posted by ageispolis at 1:19 PM on July 8, 2010

This website (which appears to be pretty official) says the shelf life is 5 years.
posted by brainmouse at 1:28 PM on July 8, 2010

The patient information leaflet only says: "Do not use Malarone after the expiry date printed on the carton." So I think you need to call a pharmacist. Note that the leaflet also says: "If you have any unwanted Malarone, don’t dispose of it in your waste water or household rubbish. Take it back to your pharmacist who will dispose of it in a way that won’t harm the environment."

I doubt a pharmacist will certify a drug he or she did not give out him or herself, but it's worth a try. At the very least find out what the expected expiry is on a current supply, and work backwards from there. I couldn't find a "default" expiration length online. Here's the company page for the drug, and here's the PDR page.
posted by artlung at 1:32 PM on July 8, 2010

Even knowing that the shelf life is 5 years, you don't know how far into that shelf life the pills you have in your possession already were when you originally got them in January 2008.

Malaria is not to be trifled with. Yes, Malarone is expensive, but malaria prophylaxis is worth every blinking penny. I speak as the caregiver- mr. ambrosia picked up malaria on our honeymoon (I dodged that bullet) and really it is an incredibly miserable experience, and depending on which type of parasite takes up residence in your liver, the little buggers can kill you (p. falciparum, I'm looking at you) and even if it's one of the less deadly versions, it's still pretty goddamn awful.

If it were me, as the best answer you can get now is "probably fine", I wouldn't risk it.
posted by ambrosia at 3:00 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

My scrip was filled 1/23/2010 and says very clearly to discard after 01/23/2011.

I was reimbursed for it (work) but I don't recall it being all that expensive. I think $1 per pill?
posted by charmcityblues at 4:03 PM on July 8, 2010

Best answer: Where in Indonesia are you going? If you're sticking to the cities or resorts, don't bother with the pills.

If you're venturing off the beaten path, then dump the old pills and buy new ones in Indonesia -- it's the same stuff but much less expensive.
posted by randomstriker at 4:14 PM on July 8, 2010

Can't help you with the potency of old Malarone, but I can tell you that my mom, who travels extensively in the Ecuadorian rainforest, came back from one trip and neglected to finish her course of meds. According to her, she didn't take the last day or two of the course of the prescription (which I think is supposed to be taken daily for a week or two).

A few days after she returned I came home from school and she was lying in her bed, sweating, looking terrible. She's a tough lady, and she was totally incapacitated. I remember her saying through the panting, "I think... I think I may have malaria. I don't think we have a thermometer. I need you to get one."

I got on my bike and went down to the drugstore faster than I'd ever ridden, got her the thermometer, and lo: she had a hell of a fever. And Malaria. (Man, haven't thought about this for years, I think it was the first time I really realized Mom was a human being and I needed to take care of her).

Anyway, she got better and she's fine now, but IIRC Malaria stays in the your blood forever (so like you can't donate blood for the rest of your life, and I believe there's a small chance you can have a relapse years later, but a doc can give you that info)

I guess the moral is, don't fuck around with malaria. It kills a shitload of people every year, and thank Science someone's figured out a way to vastly reduce the chance that you'll contract it. Again: Mom is a savvy-as-hell world traveler, and she missed just a couple pills in a 20- or 30-pill cycle, and she got the bug.

Not sure what your financial situation is, but if you can afford the (admittedly costly) pills without having to miss a rent payment, do it. You want those things at full potency.

And make sure to take the full course of medication, even the last few you're supposed to take when you get back home!

Happy travels, and be well.
posted by andromache at 5:51 PM on July 8, 2010

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