Lariam: Leaving Irish Soldiers in the Trenches

Lariam is another name for mefloquine drug. The Defence Forces prescribe Lariam to prevent malaria in Irish Soldiers while abroad. Side effects include depression, neurological disorders, anxiety, hallucinations. It should never be prescribed to anyone who has suffered these side effects previously. The manufacturer withdrew the drug from public sale in Ireland and claims this was unrelated to the side effects. Worryingly, the Defence Force continue to prescribe Lariam to Irish Soldiers.

Effects on the Soldiers Lives

Sadly, over 7,000 Irish soldiers deployed overseas were prescribed this drug.

Some of the soldiers affected were forced to retire on health grounds. These soldiers are still fighting with the government to seek compensation for their illnesses.

50 soldiers have started legal cases due to the use of this drug . They want an admission that it caused damage to their mental health. No case has reached court yet and no case has been settled yet.  Today the Irish Defence Forces continue to prescribe this anti-malaria drug to soldiers.

Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe told the Dáil recently “Lariam is the most suitable drug” for personnel serving overseas. He did not produce documents to support his statement.

Countries where Lariam has been used

  • Irish soldiers were prescribed it going to Liberia and Chad.
  • Also, soldiers serving in sub-Saharan Africa continue to receive the drug.
  • Since 1993,  2,000 UK soldiers were given the drug every year. Many of these were deployed in an area where there is no malaria.
Actions taken against Use of Lariam
  • In 1996, the UK Committee on Safety of Medicines, issued a warning on the side effects of Lariam.
  • Finally, in 2015, Roche Products, said it was ceasing production of this drug.
  • Action Lariam for Irish Soldiers is an Irish support group for affected soldiers.  This group has fought for years to get answers for soldiers.
  • Action Lariam for Irish Soldiers asked the Defence Forces to admit that 17 soldiers discharged on health grounds were actually suffering from side effects of Lariam. Also they want to stop the use of this drug on Irish Soldiers now.
  • In Britain, prescriptions cannot be given without a one to one consultation. Consequently, doctors can no longer prescribe it based on the medical file alone.

Why do the Defence Forces ignore the facts? Why are the Government putting lives at risk?

If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of Lariam, and want to know about your rights, please visit our contact page  or telephone Melanie Power direct on 061 513 055