Senator Dianne Feinstein wanted answers from Donald Rumsfeld in 2003
Veterans, families want answers over Forces' use of MefloquineThese may help their case
Toronto Sun crime reporter Chris Doucette. (Sun files)
By Chris Doucette, Toronto Sun
Monday, January 23, 2017
The call for accountability over the Canadian Forces’ use of a controversial anti-malaria drug is growing louder and veterans and family members hope Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will hear their cries for help.
A former medic who served in Somalia, the wife of a soldier disgraced in the Somalia Affair, the mother of a soldier who killed himself in Rwanda and a doctor with expertise in the neuropsychiatric effects of Mefloquine toxicity recently submitted written statements to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs outlining the drugs’ devastation.
Marj Matchee writes her husband, Clayton, suffered paranoia and hallucinations prior to his 1993 arrest for the deadly beating of a Somali teen.
“You see things when you sleep. You see it in the daytime too,” she recalls him saying.
Many veterans who were forced to take the drug before it was licensed still suffer from side effects that Health Canada and AA Pharma, the Canadian supplier of the drug, quietly added to Mefloquine’s warning label last year.
“We must do more to reach out to these veterans, to acknowledge the harms that Mefloquine has caused them, and commit to funding research to study and ultimately try to reverse these effects,” Matchee writes.
Dr. Remington Nevin, of Johns Hopkins University, says Mefloquine toxicity can cause brain damage that mimics PTSD, so sufferers may receive the wrong treatment and symptoms such as suicidal thoughts persist.
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Lariam Psychiatric and Suicidal Side Effects Research shows the anti-malaria drug mefloquine hydrochloride—formerly sold under the brand name Lariam—might cause psychiatric abnormalities, suicidal ideations and behaviors, and potentially permanent nerve damage. Because of these psychiatric side effects, the drug’s manufacturer, Hoffmann-La Roche, pulled it from the market in 2008. The U.S. Army continued to administer it to soldiers, however, until 2011, when the army ceased prescribing Lariam even for soldiers deployed in malaria-prone regions such as Afghanistan. In July 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified the public that mefloquine products’ drug labels would be updated with a black box warning—the agency’s most serious kind—concerning the aforementioned side effects.