Discussions on the Efficacy of Popular Malaria Drug Continue
About Melfoquine (Lariam)
“[Lariam] may become the ‘Agent Orange’ of our generation, a toxic legacy that affects our troops and veterants.” – Remington Nevin, former Army Preventive Medicine Officer and Epidemiologist.
- The malaria drug was originally manufactured by Roche for military use under the brand name Lariam.
- The drug was released on the public market in 1989.
- Though Lariam is no longer available, generic brands of mefloquine are still available and widely used.
- Currently, mefloquine is the third most prescribed malaria drug on the market.
Dangers of Mefloquine
- A 2001 randomized double-blind study found that 67 percent of patients given mefloquine suffered one or more adverse effect.
- About 6 percent of those in the study suffered side effects so severe that they required immediate medical attention.
- Some side effects – dizziness, loss of balance, ringing in the ears – are known to carry on for years after a patient stops using mefloquine.
- According to the New York Times, a resident of Ohio, upon returning from a safari in Zimbabwe where he used the drug, went to his basement for milk and shot himself instead.
- In 1993, a Canadian soldier reportedly beat a Somali prisoner to death before attempting to kill himself. The soldiers in his regiment were known to refer to Tuesdays as “Psycho Tuesday” as it was the day they were to take the mefloquine.
- The drug is also alleged to have played a role in the 2012 Afghanistan rampage where an U.S. soldier killed Afghani civilians.
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