View Full Version : VETERAN'S NEWS and VIEWS.....: Lariam and Ft. Bragg
08-12-02, 07:31 AM
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Lariam Action USA)
Lariam Action USA is trying to reach Somalia vets and any other
servicepeople who believe they have had an adverse reaction -- short or
prolonged -- to Lariam (mefloquine), a common antimalarial agent. Its side
effects range from simple nausea and dizzyness to depression and anxiety
attacks and paranoid behaviors, to suicidal ideas and even suicide.
Lariam was given to US troops in Somalia, Zaire, and elsewhere. It is
currently being used in Afghanistan. United Press International has been
doing a series on Lariam and vets. The most recent story (Aug 7)asks if
Lariam could be a factor in the killings at Ft Bragg. You can read these
stories at www.upi.com (search "lariam').
I am looking for vets who think they had an adverse reaction to Lariam and
would like to talk about it. If this described you, please contact me asap at
Jeanne Lese, Lariam Action USA, <A
08-12-02, 07:35 AM
Lariam connection to Bragg killings? <br />
By Mark Benjamin and Dan Olmsted <br />
From the Washington Politics & Policy Desk <br />
From the <A HREF="http://www.upi.com/deskview.cfm?DeskCode=washington">...
I don't post much, but in my humble opinion we need to stop giving Mefloquine(Lariam) to our troops now. It seems to me, untill proven otherwise, that there have been way to many suicides and homicides among Marines & soliders that have taken Mefloquine.
1st Force Reconnaissance Co. (1990-94)
Somalia & Rwanda
08-12-02, 03:34 PM
... High stress life style associated with serving in the Armed Forces of the United States. Bad reactions to a relatively unproved drug causing psychotic behaviour in those who've been subjeted to it. Naw. I don't see a connection. Do you! We've never seen this before! (sarcasm) It's getting entirely to old and too common place.
We need to deal with the immediate threat, which is the government acknowledgement of this situation. Then we need to consider how to prevent such wholesale scientific experimentation on the members of of our Armed Services.
Pentagon Plans Expert Probe of Fort Bragg Killings <br />
Thu Aug 22, 6:24 PM ET <br />
By Charles Aldinger <br />
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon ( news - web sites) plans to send a team of experts to Fort...
09-27-02, 08:24 AM
Worse than the disease? <br />
As investigators debate its role in a series of military killings, anti-malaria drug mefloquine carries a long, strange history, DAVID AKIN reports <br />
By DAVID AKIN <br />
09-27-02, 08:29 AM
The San Francisco Chronicle <br />
Copyright 2002 <br />
Sunday, September 15, 2002 <br />
TRAVEL MEDICINE <br />
Tricky anti-malaria drug still travelers' first choice <br />
Ulysses Torassa <br />
E-mail Ulysses Torassa at...
09-27-02, 08:32 AM
Sydney Morning Herald
Copyright of John Fairfax Group Pty Ltd
Thursday, September 19, 2002
News And Features
The resurgence of the mosquito-borne illness has forced pharmaceutical companies to find new ways to combat the disease. But one drug has possible fatal side effects. Ruth Pollard reports.
THE United States Army is investigating whether it is linked to a series of murders and suicides at its Fort Bragg base in North Carolina, lobby groups oppose its use and its manufacturer, Roche, is sending letters to US doctors warning of its reported links to suicides.
The controversy over the anti-malaria drug mefloquine, sold in Australia as Lariam, has not only reopened debate about the safety of the drug, but has doctors wondering whether, for some travellers, anti-malaria drugs are needed at all.
Mefloquine was developed by the US Army because some strains of malaria were becoming resistant to chloroquine in the late '70s. The drug has come under attack because of the serious, but rare, neuropsychiatric side effects it causes.
One in every 10,000 people who take mefloquine to avoid developing malaria while in areas where mosquitoes are rife experiences severe neuropsychiatric disorders. That rises to one in 1000 to 2000 when it is used as a treatment for malaria because it is used in higher doses, experts say.
Mefloquine is mainly prescribed for people travelling or living in Africa and South America. In South-East Asia and the Pacific, malaria has become resistant to the drug, so doxycycline, another anti-malaria drug, is usually prescribed.
Dr Andrew Fuller, an infectious diseases physician at Melbourne's Alfred Hospital, has seen the neuropsychiatric side effects of mefloquine: "I had a patient who thought he was Jesus Christ. I have a dozen patients who have had symptoms for anything from months to years. I don't prescribe the drug much there are other options, other drugs available."
That said, mefloquine is considered a highly effective preventative for malaria, one of the world's most deadly communicable diseases. Most who take it experience only mild side effects, or none at all.
Investigations are under way in the US over whether there is a connection between mefloquine and four soldiers who killed their wives, and the two who subsequently committed suicide at Fort Bragg. All four had reportedly served in Afghanistan and were allegedly taking mefloquine.
Its manufacturer in the US, Hoffman-La Roche, plans to send written notices to doctors warning that the drug has been linked to reports of suicide, although it has said there was still no evidence that mefloquine can cause people to kill themselves.
"Rare cases of suicidal ideation [thoughts] and suicide have been reported but no relationship to drug administration has been confirmed," it has said.
Mefloquine was first used to prevent malaria in 1985, and since then 14.5 million people have been prescribed the drug for malaria prevention, and 1.6 million for treatment, according to a study in the British Journal of General Practice earlier this year.
Since then "Lariam Action" support groups have been formed in Australia, New Zealand, Britain, the US, Canada, Ireland, Denmark, and Switzerland. Lariam-related lawsuits have been filed (though some have been withdrawn) in Ireland, Canada, Denmark, and the US.
The British study, which reviewed 516 published cases of adverse effects from mefloquine, found alcohol, recreational drugs, hormonal contraception and other medications can be related to severe or prolonged adverse reactions to mefloquine. It warned those with a history of liver or thyroid abnormality in the previous two years should avoid mefloquine.
But it also said: "Mefloquine is a safe and exceptionally useful drug for the mass prophylaxis and treatment of those resident populations in malaria-endemic areas which traditionally abstain from alcohol and hormonal contraception."
One Australian doctor, Bob Cass, the chief medical adviser of the Travel Doctor Group, has called for a total rethink on the prescription of anti-malaria drugs to travellers going to countries with endemic malaria.
"In most major regional centres in, for example, Thailand, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, the risk of contracting malaria is very low, and it is much lower than the risk of side effects from anti-malaria drugs," Cass told the Herald.
"On the other hand, trekking in monsoonal months is a risk, and you need to take prophylaxis."
Cass said doctors should assess where a person was travelling to, and what the individual would do while there, plus any pre-existing health conditions such as depression, epilepsy or bipolar disorder, before prescribing anti-malaria drugs.
"You cannot simply have someone come into your surgery, tell you they're going to Africa, or the Amazon, then open a travel medicine guide, run your finger down the page and say 'malaria and these are the drugs you need to prevent it' it is not as simple as that."
Cass sees many people who travel on their honeymoon. He starts them on a course of mefloquine six weeks before the wedding to see if they tolerate the drug. "If they don't, then we have time to try something else."
And his advice regarding alcohol and mefloquine? "If you are going to get drunk on the day you are meant to take your medication, don't take it delay it a day or two it stays in your blood for a long time, so a couple of days won't make much of a difference."
Roche Australia's medical director, Dr David Kingston, told the Herald the company was not changing or reissuing prescribing guidelines for mefloquine. "Our current guidelines already cover all the warnings ... of severe neuropsychiatric reactions," he said.
These events were rare and usually occurred in people with a history of depression or psychosis, he said. Malaria is a life-threatening disease, and the risks had to be weighed up.
Kingston acknowledged that the product information did not mention suicide, saying there was no scientific evidence linking mefloquine to suicide.
The director of the adverse drug reactions unit at the Therapeutic Goods Administration, John McEwen, said the product information that comes with mefloquine in Australia had "clear statements about ... psychiatric side effects".
"We will be contacting the FDA regarding this in the next month or so ... we are always prepared to relook at an issue if there is a reason to do so. Though it does look to me like factors in the US other than medical factors are driving this debate," he said, alluding to the US Army investigation.
A senior lecturer in Westmead Hospital department of medical parasitology, Dr John Walker, said there was a continuing question mark over mefloquine. "People need to be fairly cautious, particularly if they abuse the sorts of things [alcohol and other drugs] that cause adverse reactions."
But he said it would be drawing a long bow to implicate the drug in the US army murders at Fort Bragg.
"We are talking about people who are trained killers it is clouding the issue to implicate the drug in these deaths," he said. "Tens of thousands of people have taken mefloquine successfully for decades has anyone else been wandering around taking mefloquine and killing their wives?"
Walker warned of the enormous discrepancy in knowledge among doctors when it comes to tropical medicine. "It is vital that you look for pre-existing conditions or other signs that indicate people will be in danger of experiencing side effects if they take these drugs."
Karl Rieckmann, the director of the Australian Army Malaria Institute, worked on the early mefloquine studies in the '70s at the Walter Reed Army Institute in the US. Professor Rieckmann said that while he preferred to take the other commonly prescribed anti-malaria drug, doxycycline, he felt more confident about mefloquine than he did decades ago.
"As long as people keep up their hydration levels and avoid alcohol, and as long as it is not [not] prescribed to people with liver or thyroid problems or a previous history of neuropsychiatric problems, it appears to be safe," he said.
And while the army had always advised soldiers to avoid drinking alcohol when taking any anti-malaria drugs, he acknowledges that this advice may not always be followed.
Mefloquine, which has a high resistance in Asia and the Pacific where most Australian peacekeepers are based, is prescribed only as a second-line drug.
"We have always, for many years, used doxycycline, because Asia is where mefloquine resistance started," said Rieckmann.
Armies often considered compliance a big issue doxycycline was taken daily, whereas mefloquine was taken weekly, which some people found more convenient, he said, explaining one reason for its popularity in the US.
As for the investigations regarding murders and suicides at Fort Bragg in North Carolina?
"Maybe the soldiers had been out on a drinking bout?" Rieckmann said. "One thing people must remember no anti-malaria drug is
completely effective or completely safe."
09-30-02, 11:10 AM
Family: Lariam Caused Son's Suicide <br />
Associated Press <br />
September 29, 2002 <br />
WASHINGTON - A Marine from Long Island, N.Y., who served in Somalia in 1993 committed suicide seven years later, and...
10-05-02, 02:26 PM
11-08-02, 07:21 AM
Panel Finds Cause For Bragg Murders
American Forces Press Service
November 7, 2002
Marital discord, high personnel tempo and fear of counseling contributed to five murders at Fort Bragg, N.C., Army officials said today.
During a six-week period in June and July 2002, there were four homicides of active duty soldiers' wives at the base. The soldiers have been accused of the crimes.
In a fifth case, a woman allegedly killed her soldier husband.
Fort Bragg and Army officials have examined the tragic incidents and recommended a number of steps to address these problems. Serious incident review boards, ordered by local commanders, investigated the incidents, as did an epidemiological consultation team from the Department of the Army.
Overall, officials at the post plan to increase awareness of domestic violence incidents and highlight the options open to families having domestic troubles. Post officials also plan to reach out to soldiers and their families living off post.
Fort Bragg leaders have strengthened cooperation with some local jurisdictions and are working to expand cooperation with others.
The base will also sponsor immediate counseling programs for soldiers returning from forward-deployed locations.
The base implemented a toll-free phone number on Nov. 1 that Fort Bragg families can call for help in dealing with a number of issues, including domestic violence. Post officials launched a direct-mail campaign to ensure that all spouses and soldiers have information about the service.
The Army will study the impact personnel tempo has on military families and look at building pilot programs at the base to institute workplace-oriented behavioral healthcare, violence-prevention programs, and unit-based marriage- education programs.
The Army has many programs dealing with domestic abuse. Unfortunately, researchers found that many soldiers do not take advantage of such programs because they feel going for help will adversely impact their careers. An Army working group is developing an action plan that "encourages soldiers to avail themselves of behavioral health services without adverse inference," according to an executive summary of the recommendations.
The epidemiological group eliminated the anti-malarial drug Mefloquine, also known as Lariam, as a cause for the tragic incidents.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- An Army report released Thursday saying a controversial malaria drug called Lariam was an "unlikely" factor in a cluster of killings and suicides near Fort Bragg, N.C.,...
Thursday's report from the Army is the second time in two months the military has signaled that Lariam does not cause significant problems. In September, the Pentagon responded to concern about the drug from House Military Personnel Subcommittee Chairman Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y. Side effects from Lariam "have been few in number and generally of low severity," the Pentagon wrote.
But the letter to McHugh also notes that the military and Lariam's manufacturer, Hoffmann-La Roche, have funded key scientific studies on Lariam. "This fact suggests at least the possibility of either commercial or institutional bias in the reporting of results," it says.
An internal safety report from Roche, obtained by United Press International, shows that reports of violent behavior have been coming in to the drugmaker and the Food and Drug Administration for nearly a decade. Roche said in a statement to UPI that there is "no medical or scientific evidence" that the drug can cause violent or criminal behavior and that incidents cited in its safety reports are anecdotes, not evidence.
Roche's 1994 safety report cites a 26-year old American woman who experienced "aggression, compulsion to ('stab') attack boyfriend and to use obscenities;" a man who destroyed a hotel room and window while psychotic and in the grip of a paranoid "fear of Nazis" that led to him being imprisoned and hospitalized; and another case described as, "psychosis -- hospitalization required, endangering himself and others."
The 1994 Roche safety report includes a reference to a patient "in U.S. military/Somalia" who was hospitalized suffering from "psychosis, confusion, depression, fatigue, hostility, agitation" and paranoia.
UPI has interviewed a number of soldiers who say Lariam has given them long-term mental problems since the U.S. military began widely using the drug on over 20,000 troops deployed to Somalia in the early 1990s. U.S. Army officials told UPI they never saw evidence of any problems with the drug there.
"There is so much darkness in your brain and so much violence. And you know what you are capable of," said G. Mayes, a member of the Army reserves who was called up in 1993. Mayes said that while she suffered no mental problems before then, the Lariam the Army gave her brought on hallucinations, confusion, depression, paranoia, suicidal thoughts and even thoughts of homicide that she struggles with to this day.
"You know that no one around you is safe. You do whatever you can to maintain the appearance of normalcy. It is all in your eyes and in your head. You know that if somebody pulls the right stunt, you are just going to snap their little neck and leave them there."
Mayes said she once bought a bottle of sleeping pills with the intention of committing suicide, primarily out of concern that she might kill someone else. "I decided to take two pills and think about it. I woke up the next day and put the pills away."
Other soldiers who took Lariam during Operation Enduring Freedom have described potentially deadly consequences from taking it.
A 27-year old Air Force Staff Sgt. named Kevin based in Little Rock, Ark., says he was suffering from tremors, delusions, hallucinations and black outs by the time he took his fifth Lariam pill in Pakistan during operations. That soldier, who wanted to go by his first name only and is on medical leave, said he struggles with frightening flashes of anger that could trigger the unthinkable.
"These guys who killed their wives and then themselves (near Fort Bragg). If they were having a reaction to Lariam I can totally understand why they did it. The patience level goes way down. You feel confused, and the anger and frustration level goes way up," Kevin said.
"The only reason I have not done anything to myself yet is because I think it is a one-way ticket to hell."
Another soldier was recently hospitalized with serious mental problems after taking Lariam in Afghanistan.
"He went, he did his fighting and now he is sick," said that soldier's mother, requesting anonymity because she said she fears retribution from the Army on her son. She said he is hallucinating and suffering from anxiety and depression and that she fears for his life.
"He exhibits all of these side effects. He was a normal human being," she said. "I want this drug off the market ... They are not going to do this to my child."
Congressman Stupak is the third member of Congress to raise questions about Lariam. In July, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., called for an independent medical investigation to protect the health of Peace Corps volunteers, who are routinely prescribed the drug. In May, McHugh wrote to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, asking whether the drug's side effects were causing troops mental problems. His committee continues to work on the issue.
McHugh said about Thursday's report from the Army, "Regarding Lariam, while the Army found it was unlikely to have spurred the violence at Fort Bragg, our committee will focus on the results of a scientific, peer review now under way at the Centers for Disease Control."
A former FDA official said that if Lariam were at fault in killings, it should not be on the market.
"I do not know of any product that would be allowed to generate a psychosis that could stimulate someone to commit murder and be an approved drug," said Gerald F. Meyer, former deputy director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research who is not familiar with Lariam but is an expert on drug safety. "I do not know of any, and I cannot imagine one."
Contributing: J.S. Newton in Afghanistan
02-22-03, 09:54 AM
Anti-Malaria Drug Cited In Murder <br />
United Press International <br />
February 21, 2003 <br />
CHARLESTON, Ill. - The lawyer for a former Marine convicted of murder will tell an Illinois jury next week...
Suicide In Fort Bragg Jail <br />
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C., March 24, 2003 <br />
An Army Special Forces soldier charged with killing his wife after returning from Afghanistan nine months ago hanged himself in a...
04-24-03, 03:07 PM
Anti-malaria drug cited in Illinois murder <br />
By Mark Benjamin and Dan Olmsted <br />
From the Washington Politics & Policy Desk <br />
Published 2/21/2003 3:33 PM <br />
CHARLESTON, Ill., Feb. 21 (UPI) -- The...
I know this is getting old, but I think newcomers should be aware of the problems people (Military & Civilian) are having after taking Lariam (Mefloquine).
Bill "Kalbo" Long
Copyright (c) 2003 Western Newspaper Printers Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Thursday, April 3, 2003
Anti-malaria drug 'should be banned'
A year ago Bryony Miles was an outgoing straight-A student, but a holiday to Africa changed her life and today she is undergoing psychiatric treatment in a Somerset hospital. Now her desperate family tell reporter Marc Cooper why they are calling for a ban on Lariam, a leading anti-malaria drug.
"I AM not doing very well right now, " said 20 year-old Bryony Miles, her voice slow and movements sluggish.
"It all started when my lips peeled off, and now I am suffering from severe mental and neurological problems - it is very difficult to bear." Miss Miles is in a psychiatric hospital at Summerlands, Yeovil, where she takes each day as it comes and tries to make sense of the past year.
Twelve months ago she was enjoying her first year at university after a string of A-grade A-levels, and was looking forward to an exciting trip to Africa.
But within weeks of taking a leading anti-malaria drug called Lariam Bryony was rushed home and into Yeovil District Hospital.
Since then Bryony has been forced to quit her studies to spend more time in hospital.
She said: "I think it is important that the drug is banned - I have spent weeks without even being able to move.
"There is not enough recognition about Lariam and there should be more public awareness."
Despite concerns about its side effects and reports of high levels of suicides among its takers Lariam is a leading anti-malaria drug used by more than 25 million people.
The Government's Medicines Control Agency says it knows of more than 2,000 adverse reactions to Lariam.
Its maker Neroche warns users to watch out for adverse reactions but says the drug is safe.
A Neroche spokesman said:
"Lariam is the drug of choice for the prevention and treatment of malaria by leading public health authorities, including the World Health Organisation." But Bryony Miles' family, from Stourton Caundle near Sherborne, want more research done on a drug they say has ruined their daughter's life.
Her father Richard Miles said:"Bryony has really been suffering.
She is like a zombie - she has muscular problems and will suddenly lose all control.
"The makers do warn you of the side effects but we think control should be tighter. In the United States last July they made it stricter to get. But that was months after Bryony took them and now she wishes she had never touched the stuff.
"There should be clearer warnings. Our girl used to be top of her class, but now her brain just cannot work." This week an inquest at Cambridge heard how undergraduate Vanessa Brunt, aged 22, killed herself after Lariam tablets made her severely depressed.
The court heard how Miss Brunt changed from a "bright and vivacious young woman" into one with a "haunted expression in her eyes".
Malaria is spread by the bite of mosquitos and affects 300-500 million people worldwide every year, claiming more than 1.5 million lives;
More than 90 countries are at risk, home to more than two billion people;
Early malaria symptoms can be a headache, muscle aches, diarrhoea, fever, chills, vomiting, coughing and abdominal pain.
The symptoms of more advanced malaria are liver failure, kidney failure, fluid in the lungs, convulsions, coma, death; and
The Department of Health says travellers should always contact their GP for advice before setting off.
05-13-03, 07:34 AM
Lariam Action USA is an information service for people who have questions about the anti-malaria drug Lariam® (mefloquine). We are the founding member of the Coalition for Anti-malarial Drug Safety (CADS), and we work with support groups and individuals all over the world.
Since January 1997, thousands of people (including many Peace Corps volunteers and military personnel) have reported significant Lariam side effects to us. These side effects are often severe, lasting for months and sometimes years. Of the people who mention the duration of Lariam side effects, more than 20% report physical and/or psychological symptoms lasting for two years or longer. The Lariam label even states: " . . . these symptoms have been reported to continue long after mefloquine has been stopped" (Roche, July 2002).
INFORMED CHOICE is our goal. We believe you have the right to know the risks and benefits of any anti-malarial drug BEFORE you decide what to take. Different anti-malarials are available. In fact, the CDC says that Lariam, doxycycline, and Malarone are equally effective for malaria protection (Health Information for International Travel, CDC, Feb. 1, 2001). And the FDA permits the manufacturer of Malarone to state it is SAFER than the older antimalarial drugs -- including Lariam.
Below is a link regarding a possible class action lawsuit against Roche (maker of Lariam, aka Mefloquine):
Bill "Kalbo" Long