Calls To Ban Malaria Drug Lariam Linked With Severe Psychiatric Side Effects

Expert Lawyers Express Concern As MoD Continues To Prescribed Drug

08.09.2015

Conservative MP Johnny Mercer has called for malaria drug mefloquine, which is also known as Lariam, to be banned immediately due to links between the drug and severe mental illness.

Expert product liability and group action lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, who have been approached to investigate the use of Lariam by a number of armed forces personnel, have backed the calls and are currently investigating the possibility of a legal claim on behalf of troops affected by the drug.

Lariam has been widely used by British soldiers and Mr Mercer has said he regularly receives letters from armed forces personnel claiming they have been affected since taking the anti-malaria drug.

Studies have revealed that around a third of those who have taken Lariam suffer significant side-effects.

Dr Ashley Croft, who carried out the studies and served in the British armed forced for 27 years, said: “If anybody was to ask me now should they take Lariam I would say definitely not - under no circumstances should you take Lariam to prevent malaria given that there are safer options available that will not cause you to run the risk."

Other drugs to combat malaria have been available since 2007 but Lariam has continued to be supplied by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to British personnel stationed in malarial areas despite concerns over the potentially dangerous psychiatric side-effects research has exposed.

In 2013 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) highlighted potential neurological and psychiatric side-effects of mefloquine and gave the drug its strongest “black box safety warning”. The drug was then banned from use within the US armed forces.

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed Lariam is still the first-choice anti-malarial drug prescribed to troops in sub-Saharan deployments such as Sierra Leone and Kenya.

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Kevin Timms, a specialist product liability and group actions solicitor at law firm Irwin Mitchell which has been approached to investigate Lariam use by the MoD on behalf of several soldiers, said:


Expert Opinion
We have been approached by several members of the armed forces who say they have suffered from problems with adverse side-affects associated with taking Lariam and we are investigating the possibilities of a legal case to help them.

“There are clearly serious concerns about the drug and its use by the MoD and it important that these are addressed as soon as possible.

“We are concerned that, at least since 2007, it has been public knowledge of the potential for severe psychiatric injuries for some of those using Lariam, but military personnel about to be deployed have continued to be prescribed with the drug, despite the military environment being more likely to trigger Lariam adverse events.
Kevin Timms, Solicitor