Sunday, November 29, 2015

Australia Soldiers Say Mefloquine Left Them Scarred

Soldiers fear drug program has scarred them with depression, anxiety, nightmares
Sydney Morning Herald
Henry Belot
November 29, 2015

"At various times it was like living in a heavily armed lunatic asylum."
ADF veteran prescribed Lariam
Major Stuart McCarthy is calling for a public inquiry into the ADF's use of antimalarial drug mefloquine. Photo: Brendon Thorne
Australian soldiers and veterans are calling for an immediate inquiry into the use of an antimalarial drug they believe scarred them with permanent psychological damage, anxiety attacks, vertigo, nightmares, suicidal thoughts and hallucinations.

The group, which includes commandos and officers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, believe they have been incorrectly diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or depression and were ignored by the military after raising concerns about the drug.

The Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force has launched an internal inquiry into the use of the drug mefloquine, or Lariam, which has been used on up to 2000 personnel since a controversial drug trial in East Timorin 2001-02.

Major Stuart McCarthy was prescribed mefloquine while serving in Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2001 and has since suffered depression, vertigo, hearing and memory problems and cognitive impairment.

Major Stuart McCarthy was prescribed mefloquine while serving in Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2001 and has since suffered depression, vertigo, hearing and memory problems and cognitive impairment. Photo: Brendon Thorne
But documents obtained by Fairfax Media reveal Chief of Army Lieutenant-General Angus Campbell does not support a campaign against the drug because it would deny deployment opportunities, despite acknowledging the side effects.
"I have been an army officer 27 years and I have no trust in the Australian Defence Force's handling of this matter," he said. read more here