Prescription drugs derived from the Artemisia annua plant show very limited benefit in improving cancer treatment outcomes.
Artesunate and artemisinin-based drugs at a glance
Prescription drugs termed “artemisinins” are derived from the Artemisia annua plant. They include artesunate, dihydroartemisinin, artemether, artemisone, arteether, artelinic acid, and 10-(4-phenyl-1H-1,2,3- triazol)-artemisinin (5a). Artesunate, a drug approved for use in malaria, has been researched for use in cancer more than other artemisinins. Use is considered off-label or repurposed, as it does not have FDA approval for treating cancer.
Preliminarysignificant effects in small or poorly designed clinical studies OR conflicting results in adequate studies but a preponderance of evidence of an effect (this is the CancerChoices definition; other researchers and studies may define this differently) or weakone or more case studies, supported by animal evidence OR small treatment effects of limited clinical significance OR studies with no controls OR weak trends of effects (this is the CancerChoices definition; other researchers and studies may define this differently) evidence shows that these drugs may lead to better cancer outcomes. These drugs require a prescription, can be very expensive, and are unlikely to be covered by insurance for off-label use in cancer.
Compare artemisinin-based drugs to the Artemisia annua plant and extracts available without prescription.
CancerChoices ratings for artesunate and other artemisinin-based drugs
We rate artesunate and other artemisinin-based drugs on seven attributes, with 0 the lowest rating and 5 the highest. We rate the strength of the evidence supporting the use of artesunate and other artemisinin-based drugs for a medical benefit, such as improving treatment outcomes or managing side effects.
See how we evaluate and rate complementary therapies ›