Members of our active military, and members of the Peace Corps may have been directed to take mefloquine, an anti-malarial medication. They were given it once a week while overseas.
U.S. service members routinely take malarial prophylaxis medications when deploying to countries where malaria is a problem, such as Afghanistan, Djibouti, and other parts of Africa. But, anti-malarial drugs were also prescribed in places where the mosquito-borne disease is not prevalent, such as Iraq, which has been malaria-free since 2008.
Melfoquine was developed in the 1970’s at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, which turned it over to the pharmaceutical manufacturer F. Hoffman-LaRoche to manufacture under the name Lariam. The FDA approved its use for treating and preventing malaria in 1989.
But, in the 1990’s stories began to surface regarding some serious side effects among patients who took mefloquine, including vivid dreams and nightmares, hallucinations, mania, seizures, depression, suicidal thoughts, and homicide. Mefloquine psychosis was raised as an explanation in 2002 in Fort Bragg, North Carolina when, during a six-week period, three U.S. Army Special Operations Command Soldiers who had recently returned from Afghanistan, murdered their wives and all three later died by suicide.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to examine scientific literature to determine whether anti-malarial drugs like Melfoquine or Lariam causes brain damage, neurological conditions, or psychiatric disorders. They are specifically looking at anti-malarials used by the Department of Defense, giving special attention to “long term neurological effects, psychiatric effects and the potential development of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Our service members and Peace Corps Volunteers who took mefloquine experienced symptoms such as:
- Suicidal ideation
- Night terrors
- “brain fog”
- Loss of balance
If you were stationed overseas, and were required to take mefloquine, a/k/a Lariam, and you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call or e-mail Jeff. He will sit down with you and review your case to see if you have a cause of action against the manufacturer, or if you are eligible for service-connected disability compensation.
MEFLOQUINE AND PTSD
Case studies have shown that neurological damage related to mefloquine use has symptoms similar to PTSD. In 2016, an Army physician published a study of a 32 year-old service member who had been diagnosed with PTSD, but also had cognitive issues and vertigo. His physicians linked his symptoms to mefloquine after other treatments failed.
If you have a diagnosis from PTSD, call or e-mail Jeff. He will review your case to see if you took the drug, and if you may have had side effects that existed before your diagnosis.