Ex-Army Chief Apologises To Troops Over Use Of Lariam

Specialist Lawyers Receive Over 230 Enquiries In Relation To The Use Of The Drug


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Ex-army chief Lord Dannatt has apologised to troops who took the anti-malaria drug Lariam while under his command and admitted that he refused to take it himself.

Leading military lawyers at Irwin Mitchell say the former head of the British army’s apology and admission confirm how serious the side effects of taking Lariam can be and how important it is for servicemen and women to get the support and treatment they need.

Lord Dannatt, who was chief of the general staff between 2006 and 2009, told BBC2’s Victoria Derbyshire programme he would not take the drug because of the experiences his son had with Lariam.

Dannatt said his son became “extremely depressed” and if he had been left untreated “who knows where it would have gone”.

He told the BBC the side-effects of the drug could be “pretty catastrophic” and as a result whenever he’s needed anti-malarial drugs, Lord Dannatt said, “I’ll take anything, but I’m not taking Lariam”.
The ex-army chief made clear that he was “quite content to say sorry” to those troops who had taken Lariam while he was head of the army.

Expert military injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have received more than 230 enquiries from people claiming to be affected by issues related to Lariam. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) have subsequently been informed of several claims from armed forces personnel who have suffered a range of psychological side-effects, including hallucinations, severe depression, sleep deprivation and anxiety.

The MoD admitted that Lariam may have been used “outside of manufacturers’ guidelines” following a Defence Select Committee inquiry last year.

The Commons Defence Committee said there was "strong anecdotal evidence" that stringent conditions laid down by the manufacturers for issuing Lariam had been ignored by the armed forces and a new report called for the drug to be used only as a last resort. Lord Dannatt said the MoD put the issue of larium prescription “on the back burner”.

The MoDs response to the Select Committee Report has yet to be published.

According to official MOD figures at least 17,368 personnel were prescribed Lariam, also referred to as Mefloquine, at least once between the start of April 2007 and the end of March 2015.

Kevin Timms, Specialist group actions lawyer at Irwin Mitchell feels the ex-army chief’s comments highlight just how serious the side effects of using Lariam can be.

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“Hearing Lord Dannatt, an ex-army chief, speaking so forcefully about Lariam is a powerful reminder of the serious side effects caused by the anti-malaria drug.

“After seeing the impact it had on his son, Lord Dannatt made a decision to “take anything, but not Lariam” and sadly this speaks volumes. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case for many clients we’re now supporting who didn’t have that option and are now being affected by mental health problems since being supplied with the drug.

“The serious side effects of the use of Lariam have been well known to the MoD for a number of years and it is concerning that the drug was still the first-choice anti-malaria drug for our troops until very recently. Discussions surrounding its use were seemingly put on the “backburner”.

“Earlier this year we welcomed the recommendation that Lariam should be banned for military use apart from in exceptional circumstances but this still came too late for the many veterans who have already suffered from taking the powerful drug.

“The focus now has to be on supporting these servicemen and women and their families so they’re properly diagnosed and treated as a matter of urgency.

“Again, we call upon the MoD to work collaboratively with us in resolving the cases it faces and in showing that it is prepared to stand by and support current and former service personnel who have suffered as a result of Lariam.”
Kevin Timms, Solicitor