Malarone vs. Lariam – Which is Better for Preventing Malaria?


7 Nov 2023

Malaria, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes, can pose a large risk to travelers visiting affected regions (throughout 87 countries & territories).

Two common medications, Lariam and Malarone, offer protection and peace of mind – but each comes with its own set of considerations.

About Lariam

Lariam is a quinolone – containing the active ingredient mefloquine.

Typically taken once a week, starting three weeks before travel, it helps to inhibit the growth of malaria parasites in the bloodstream – providing ongoing protection during and after the trip.

Pros of using Lariam

There’s a couple main reasons why some doctors recommend Lariam:

  • Cost-Effective Dosage: Lariam typically requires fewer tablets, making it a cost-effective option for some travelers.
  • Weekly Administration: With Lariam, you only need to take a tablet once a week, simplifying the dosage regimen.

Cons of using Lariam

Let’s explore the potential drawbacks associated with Lariam – and why many doctors prescribe Malarone instead.

  • Side Effects: Lariam is associated with adverse effects, especially for individuals prone to anxiety, depression, or low moods.
  • Timeline: You typically need to begin taking it 3 weeks before travel and 4 weeks after travel, which many patients find very inconvenient and costly.
  • Health Requirements: Users must meet specific health requirements, and the medication’s impact on an individual should be assessed before certain tasks.

What to know about Malarone

Malarone, arguably the most popular malaria prevention pills, offers an alternative with its own set of unique advantages.

Pros of using Malarone

  • Mild Side Effects: Malarone typically causes milder side effects compared to Lariam, making it a more tolerable option for many travelers.
  • Quick Onset: Malarone takes effect relatively quickly, helping to provide fast protection to malaria exposure.
  • Online Prescription: New telehealth options are available to get an online prescription – at a cheaper cost than primary care & travel clinics. Runway Health will even ship it to your door, for free.

Get online prescription with Runway

Cons of using Malarone

However, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential drawbacks of Malarone – so you can weigh the pros and cons.

  • Daily Use: While Malarone is taken for a shorter duration after returning, it does require daily administration during the trip.
  • Affordability: If you choose to skip the online prescription and get Malarone using an in-person travel clinic (or standard primary care) – the total costs can reach beyond $200. 

This is part of the reason many travelers are opting for an online prescription for Malarone.

Which is better for preventing malaria during travel – Malarone or Lariam?

Choosing between Malarone and Lariam depends on various factors, and it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons.

Frequency of Administration: 

If the idea of a weekly dose is appealing, Lariam might be a suitable choice. However, if daily administration is doable for you, many doctors recommend Malarone over Lariam.

Health Conditions: 

Individuals prone to anxiety, depression, or low moods should carefully consider the potential impact of Lariam. Malarone, with milder side effects, may be a more comfortable choice for some – especially during travel.

Cost Considerations: 

While Lariam may be more cost-effective due to its less frequent dosage, travelers should balance this against the potential of side effects. Malarone, despite being pricier, might be a preferred option for those prioritizing a smoother experience and greater effectiveness.

Trip Duration: 

The duration of the trip plays a role, with Malarone’s shorter regimen (pre-travel and post-travel) appealing to those seeking a quicker conclusion to the medication.

Final Thoughts on Malarone vs. Lariam

In the Malarone vs. Lariam debate, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Both medications offer effective malaria prevention, but the choice ultimately rests on individual preferences, health conditions, and budget considerations.

Ultimately, you should keep the following in mind:

Consult with a Healthcare Professional: 

Before making a decision, consult with a healthcare professional who can assess your health history and provide recommendations. Runway Health offers some of the cheapest consultations – only $30.

Prioritize Health and Comfort: 

While cost is a factor, prioritizing health and comfort during travel is paramount. Consider the potential impact of side effects on your overall experience.

Adhere to Prescribed Regimens: 

Whichever medication is chosen, adherence to the prescribed regimen is crucial for effective malaria prevention. Follow the instructions provided by your healthcare provider closely.

Whether Malarone or Lariam, the goal is a safe and enjoyable travel experience. Make an informed decision based on your unique circumstances, ensuring a journey that is both memorable and health-conscious!

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