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Army Reviews Controversial Drug After Afghan Massacre

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the manufacturing-crises dept.

The Military 195

Hugh Pickens writes "Time Magazine reports that after the massacre in which Staff Sgt. Robert Bales allegedly killed 17 civilians in Afghanistan, the Pentagon has ordered an urgent review of the use of the anti-malarial drug mefloquine, also known as Lariam, known to have severe psychiatric side effects including psychotic behavior, paranoia and hallucinations. 'One obvious question to consider is whether he was on mefloquine (Lariam), an anti-malarial medication,' writes Elspeth Cameron Ritchie in Time. 'This medication has been increasingly associated with neuropsychiatric side effects, including depression, psychosis, and suicidal ideation.' The drug has been implicated in numerous suicides and homicides, including deaths in the U.S. military. For years the military used the weekly pill to help prevent malaria among deployed troops, however in 2009 the U.S. Army nearly dropped use of mefloquine entirely because of the dangers, using it only in limited circumstances, including sometimes in Afghanistan. Army and Pentagon officials would not say whether Bales took the drug, citing privacy rules. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Jonathan Woodson has ordered a new, urgent review to make sure that troops were not getting the drug inappropriately. 'Some deployed service members may be prescribed mefloquine (PDF) for malaria prophylaxis without appropriate documentation in their medical records and without proper screening for contraindications,' the order says. It notes that this review must include troops at 'deployed locations.'"

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I'm I in the wrong Blog? (-1, Offtopic)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39522793)

I thought this site was about IT, and Technology? Since when has /. become side show for Foxnews and CNN?

Re:I'm I in the wrong Blog? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39522845)

So I guess chemistry and biology aren't technologies anymore...

Re:I'm I in the wrong Blog? (5, Funny)

jythie (914043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523149)

Everyone knows that if you can not use it to build a robot it isn't technology.

Re:I'm I in the wrong Blog? (4, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523699)

How are we supposed to be hunted down and killed by T-800s without chemistry and biology? Research into these fields is vital.

Oh, wait...

Re:I'm I in the wrong Blog? (1)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524059)

how about androids...

Re:I'm I in the wrong Blog? (4, Funny)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39522849)

What's that? Drugged out solders killing civilians? Yawn. Wake me when there's news about how Apple or Microsoft is bad and Linux is good.

Re:I'm I in the wrong Blog? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39522893)

Adaption. IT, Technology and Science. This is somewhat scientific.

Then you get the periphery interests of /.ers. The IT field has a lot of college grads who tend to be more liberal leaning than the general populous. On the other hand the whole Open Source movement brushes up against libertarian-ism which tends to often brush up against US conservatism. So the occasional topic related to those will also slip in.

Re:I'm I in the wrong Blog? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523009)

Its posted under science.

Re:I'm I in the wrong Blog? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523017)

>I thought this site was about IT, and Technology? Since when has /. become side show for Foxnews and CNN?

lol...

Come my friend: http://boards.4chan.org/g/ [4chan.org]

Seriously.

Re:I'm I in the wrong Blog? (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523019)

Since anyone with reasonably good karma can vote stories up to the front page now, /. content is going to start resembling Reddit more and more.

Re:I'm I in the wrong Blog? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523269)

Since 9/11.

Re:I'm I in the wrong Blog? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523591)

The phrasing is: 9/11 changed everything.

Apparently people didn't Never Forget.

Re:I'm I in the wrong Blog? (2)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523515)

Shorter parent: neurochemistry is BOOORING.

Re:I'm I in the wrong Blog? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523593)

Any drug is researched and tested for 11-17 years before it's sold. What kind of tests are done? Wait, maybe the testing phase includes giving it to crazy idiots with guns and watching what they do...

Re:I'm I in the wrong Blog? (2)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523683)

But there was an episode on M*A*S*H about that. Where Sgt Klingon went nuts on an away mission to Koreadia

The Administration's Sweating Profusely (5, Insightful)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 2 years ago | (#39522803)

Obviously it's pure speculation, but I have a hard time believing this would mitigate any punishment Bales receives. It would be a nightmare of the most extreme order for the military should Bales be exculpated, even in the most limited sense. The Afghans have been screaming for him to be tried under Afghan law. It would be hard enough to punishment short of the death penalty to the Afghan public, much less an outcome that ends with him in psychiatric care first. This is just one more massive headache in a case that can't be over for the Pentagon fast enough.

In the mean time, expect relations to continue to deteriorate between Afghan security forces and ISAF troops. There is real danger of this review fueling conspiracy theories and sparking further knife-in-the-back attacks on ISAF troops like we've already seen.

It increasingly seems that no one is winning from this war. Afghan civilians have had any sense that westerners provide safety shattered. Westerners trust their Afghan counterparts even less. And yet most of Afghan development depends on the industry that supports the international presence there, which a hasty pull-out would destroy. What's the least bad option here?

Re:The Administration's Sweating Profusely (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39522957)

best option: everyone commits suicide and let the Earth return to its natural state... humans are an aberration...

Re:The Administration's Sweating Profusely (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39522991)

You're a fucking idiot.

Re:The Administration's Sweating Profusely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523011)

Hear hear. It wouldn't be so bad if our communal self-awareness wasn't pegged at retarded adolescent level. That we must even discuss some of these issues, much less have them in the first place is an indisputable symptom of our fatal condition.

Re:The Administration's Sweating Profusely (5, Funny)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523097)

best option: everyone commits suicide and let the Earth return to its natural state... humans are an aberration...

You go first. I'll be right behind you.

Re:The Administration's Sweating Profusely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523105)

humans are an aberration...

If you think any other species would pause reflectively and think to itself "Maybe I shouldn't completely destroy this planet through exploitation," you're an idiot. Humans are no different from other species. We want to survive and reproduce, and we'll do whatever we feel like doing in the process of achieving those goals. Other species don't ruin the planet because there is balance between different organisms and ecosystems. Humans are so far off the intelligence scale that there is no species which can really balance against us, so we reproduce out of control and strip resources at alarming rates.

The problem, if there even is one, is that we are far too effective and far too intelligent as living organisms. Maybe in the past when multiple hominid species co-existed there was some interaction that kept everything in check. Maybe it was the death of the last competitor hominids that put us on the path to eventual overpopulation and excess of resource consumption.

We're not an aberration, we are a level of perfection that hasn't before been seen. I figure eventually our species will fork into at least two distinct species, to somehow restore balance. Maybe they'll even be of our own creation -- mutants, enhanced clones, or something else.

Re:The Administration's Sweating Profusely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523307)

We want to survive and reproduce

It's true that I want to survive. But I don't really want to reproduce. Other people, on the other hand...

and we'll do whatever we feel like doing in the process of achieving those goals.

That's the end result, yes.

The problem, if there even is one, is that we are far too effective and far too intelligent as living organisms.

I don't think we're that intelligent. The fact that we're more intelligent than other species doesn't mean we're intelligent.

breeders gonna breed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523939)

How do you define intelligence tool?
Creativity? Processing ability? Or productivity even? Emotional sentience perhaps?
While I don't think humans are stupid, I'd rather not listen to a dumb ass claim he is smarter than all other living creatures on earth.

Re:The Administration's Sweating Profusely (4, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523159)

'natural state' is meaningless, humans are part of nature.

Re:The Administration's Sweating Profusely (3, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523659)

best option: everyone commits suicide and let the Earth return to its natural state... humans are an aberration...

The natural state of Earth includes having energy flows forming meta-stable localized regions of decreased entropy with complexity increasing over time, in one of their final forms usually called humans.

PETAFILE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523843)

You work for PETA, don't you?

Re:The Administration's Sweating Profusely (2)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 2 years ago | (#39522993)

Obviously it's pure speculation, but I have a hard time believing this would mitigate any punishment Bales receives. It would be a nightmare of the most extreme order for the military should Bales be exculpated, even in the most limited sense. The Afghans have been screaming for him to be tried under Afghan law. It would be hard enough to punishment short of the death penalty to the Afghan public, much less an outcome that ends with him in psychiatric care first. This is just one more massive headache in a case that can't be over for the Pentagon fast enough.

That's what I think. They will search through all possible excuses and then declare him mentally ill -- I mean, who isn't mentally ill if they kill 17 people. It's like medication ads today ... look long enough you'll find something wrong. That's no punishment.

It would be interesting to know what Afghans think about the payment per injured/dead -- how does that relate in their culture?

It increasingly seems that no one is winning from this war.

Nobody ever wins in wars. It's about finding out who loses less.

Re:The Administration's Sweating Profusely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523083)

We should make it right. $1B would be appropriate for this incident provided the families get at least 10% and the general public gets funding to benefit all. They need roads, schools, and reconstruction of what was lost. It would also make good PR in the face of atrocity.

The Afghan economy could be bootstrapped on mining. There's hundreds of billions [livescience.com] worth of iron ore alone. Politics will be a lasting issue as Karachi, Pakistan has the nearest seaport and Iran and China are neighbors. If the US is viewed in a negative light, this supply will go to Iran.

Re:The Administration's Sweating Profusely (3, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523191)

*nods* politically they have to punish him, though it would not be the first time the US has quietly let a citizen off the hook when a weak forign government screams bloody murder.

The bigger problem, if this medication played a role, is going to be the drug company. There have been numerous cases where a psychotic incident involving murder has been plausibly linked to a medication, but they have never survived court since drug companies do NOT want that kind of liability, so they fight tooth and nail.. and to be blunt, the medical industry is a lot stronger then the federal government. So it is very unlikely we will ever see a court approved link between this medication and a murder.

Re:The Administration's Sweating Profusely (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523257)

It increasingly seems that no one is winning from this war.

Increasingly? It was obvious from the start that this was a fool's errand. Afghanistan isn't called the graveyard of empires for no reason.

Just to put some perspective on this, Bales allegedly killed 17 civilians. NATO killed 410 civilians last year. If it took 10 such massacres to get us out of Afghanistan, we'd still be ahead by a factor of 2.

Bales is no worse than the war mongers keeping us in Afghanistan. At least he potentially has TBI and/or PTSD to blame. Obama has no one to blame but himself for civilian deaths in Afghanistan.

Not so fast (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523605)

This project has raked billions through the business of government. At the top of the pyramid, the elite who make the decisions do not care where the money comes from or where it goes -- what matters is that it passes through their hands, giving them a chance to exploit that cash flow for personal gain.

In conclusion, this project has only increased the net worth of the business of government. At the top of the pyramid, that is the entire goal. We know this because the balance sheet doesn't lie, and neither does history.

You're not in the business of government, are you?

Re:Not so fast (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523901)

YOU have no clue how the government works, do you?

Re:The Administration's Sweating Profusely (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523891)

How did this become Obama's fault? Bush got us stuck in that quagmire. It would be irresponsible to 'just leave'.
The power vacuum would be horrendous. We will leave, and afghan locals are more and more taking control of patrols and routine security measures.

Re:The Administration's Sweating Profusely (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523989)

The power vacuum will be atrocious whether we leave now or if we leave in 10 years. This isn't a "you broke it, you bought it" situation. Afghanistan was broken when we got there, and it will be broken when we leave. The only question is how many lives we throw away before we realize that fact.

Re:The Administration's Sweating Profusely (2)

schlachter (862210) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523275)

Until you've been through the altered psychological state that these and other drugs produce, it's hard to imagine the way in which it changes your thought patterns. It's not always possible to recognize your thought patterns as disturbed or to rationalize them away...or to surpress the urges associated with them.

Re:The Administration's Sweating Profusely (4, Insightful)

Truekaiser (724672) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523619)

No. they are looking for excuses other then the obvious reason. hopped up on nearly a decades worth of propaganda of these people being 'evil', and 'against our very way of life' etc him either alone or in a group. since many of the Afghanistan witnesses claim he was not alone. go out and slaughter a bunch of people for the fun of it. they want any reason to dismiss it from being pre-meditated.

as for why we are there and will continue to be there even in a less active role? we went in to chase out a certain group of people as the public reason. anyone who can read a map would see the country is valuable real estate if say the straight of Hormuz and the Pearson gulf is impassable for trade..

Re:The Administration's Sweating Profusely (2)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524005)

I'm sorry, how is Afghanistan "valuable real estate for trade" if we can't use the strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf? A land-locked, mountainous country, with the sides closest to the Gulf being bordered by Iran on one side and Pakistan on the other, and miles and miles of mountains in between? Are we gonna build roads across all of that terrain, airlift in all our trade goods, and drive them to the borders of Pakistan and Iran, only to be turned around and sent back to our airbases?

Your argument would have made far more sense if you had suggested the government wants a military footprint between Pakistan and Iran - airbases, staging areas, etc. I could credit that that's something the DoD might be interested in. But trade? Please.

Re:The Administration's Sweating Profusely (5, Interesting)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524267)

I took mefloquine for around three months while in Nepal. It does, without any doubt, have some strange psychological effects. In my case it took the form of strange "waking dreams", I could close my eyes and start dreaming without having to fall asleep. Add effects of this nature to a high-stress situation and you've got a person who probably shouldn't be allowed to wander around with a loaded rifle. Given the high praise that's been heaped on this soldier for his previous conduct and it wouldn't surprise me at all if mefloquine was an aggravating factor. Of course, there's no information on whether he was taking it or not, but if he was it's an urgent issue that needs to be dealt with ASAP.

Scapegoat (1)

Kinthelt (96845) | more than 2 years ago | (#39522809)

Sounds like a scapegoat to me. Shouldn't the medical personnel responsible for his presumed prescription then be prosecuted?

Re:Scapegoat (4, Informative)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39522987)

No one is saying he isn't responsible for his actions. They're going to review the use of the drug as a whole, and it's about time. Everyone I know who's gone (I'm a defense contractor, and many of my coworkers have gone to AFG) have had bad reactions to the drug and stopped taking it. Typical stories include violent horrible dreams every night until they stop taking it. Do you think they SHOULDN'T review the use of the drug, given its known side effects?

Re:Scapegoat (1)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523467)

Of course, I think the review should go through. Of course, I realize there is little chance this will exculpate Bales. I said as much. I was commenting on the politics of the situation. As evidenced by numerous posts in this very thread, it's very easy to read about this drug's role and immediately jump to conclusions about a conspiracy to allow these murders to go unpunished. If such a jump is so easy on slashdot, imagine what what conspiracies might spread in a more febrile environment like Afghanistan and how those conspiracies would further weaken Afghan belief in.

Still, it isn't an argument against doing the review and getting this drug away from soldiers. I merely mean to say that this is a rapidly deteriorating situation that threatens a complete breakdown of an already fragile trust between Kabul and the West.

Re:Scapegoat (1)

PerfectionLost (1004287) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523481)

If you read the descriptions of side effects for the drug it rapidly becomes apparent that the way Larium prevents malaria is by giving you all the symptoms of malaria.

I took Larium and had no bad side effects. Granted I wasn't in a warzone, but on vacation. I'm sure that has some added psychological protection to it.

Re:Scapegoat (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523979)

AH, well anecdote. So yes, lets based how we go forward on that, cause science is so mainstream.

Re:Scapegoat (0)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523137)

No, because the actual likelihood of someone having these side effects are so small, plus you have to be predisposed to those issues as well.

I've used Lariam on all my Africa trips without any issues, and my wife (who is a Doctor with the British NHS) has no issues taking it herself, despite knowing the side effect list.

Bear in mind that when a drug lists "side effects", it isn't because you are likely to actually get them, its because they legally have to - looking at the list of side effects on Paracetamol, one of the most widely used self-medicated pain killers in the UK, gives you such wierdness as "itching, swelling of the lips, tongue or throat, difficulty in breathing, unexpected bruising or bleeding, persistent tiredness, thrombocytopenia, hypotension, psychosis and disorientation." In reality, you aren't going to get any of those unless you are very very unlucky.

Re:Scapegoat (1, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523187)

Actually, my wife has just said to me that paracetamol has more documented cases of causing psychosis as a side effect than Lariam...

Re:Scapegoat (3, Insightful)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523689)

Dude you better check yourself in.

You've taken this drug, are on /. and believe you have wife. You even have conversations with this 'wife'.

Re:Scapegoat (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523997)

And my wife has told me I have the biggest cock she has ever seen.

So?

Re:Scapegoat (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524037)

ha, you were replying to yourself. Never mind I made a mistake.. wait this is /.

You made me make a mistake when you posted a reply to your own post.
Certainly not my fault for not reading who posted the comments. nope, no siree.

Re:Scapegoat (1)

rndmtim (664101) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523281)

It's true those are uncommon, but it's also true that temporary psychosis has been long associated with Lariam. I was traveling in quinine resistant areas of the Amazon and decided to chance it (I was riding a motorcycle, decided the slight chance of temporary psychosis while riding wasn't worth the also slight chance of getting resistant malaria.) I got a lot of warnings about Lariam in 2002. This has been a known possible side effect since the first Gulf War, and the reactions that were mentioned when I researched it then were often from soldiers.

Re:Scapegoat (2)

supercrisp (936036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523293)

US folks, on our side of the Atlantic Paracetamol goes by "acetaminophen" (Tylenol is popular brand). Just FYI for the non-Googling types.

Re:Scapegoat (2)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523585)

Are YOU a doctor who can speak to the physiological effects of a drug that alters brain chemistry combined with lack of sleep, near constant terror, and easy access to firearms? If not, then perhaps relating to your field trip to Africa to combat in Afghanistan isn't such a great analogy.

Re:Scapegoat (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523845)

Since they don't know if he was given the drug, aren't you being a little premature?

Also, 'side effects' happen with all drugs. You need to weigh the data about the side effects against the effects of not taking the drug.

Scapegoat (1, Insightful)

Atheose (932144) | more than 2 years ago | (#39522823)

This sounds like it will be a easy scapegoat for the entire massacre, rather than the fact that the individual was responsible, or the military in general.

Robert Bales is a fall boy (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39522831)

Bales did nothing, and is getting blamed for what his platoon did. You cant shoot and burn 17 people and wake up with no memory of it, and multiple reports from witnesses say there were 15-20 men there.

Army coverup?

Army coverup.

Re:Robert Bales is a fall boy (1, Insightful)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 2 years ago | (#39522897)

Agreed. Also, how does somone shoot 1 person without the rest of the village getting the fuck out of Dodge? Something in the "Official" story doesnt add up.

Re:Robert Bales is a fall boy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39522975)

VTech? Not exactly the same, but one guy, 30+ people, with a _handgun_.

Re:Robert Bales is a fall boy (1)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523023)

True, but if memory serves they were barricaded inside, and those are people who weren't in a country where people regularly get shot at and blown up........well at least not as much as Afganistan.

Re:Robert Bales is a fall boy (4, Interesting)

what2123 (1116571) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523047)

I don't doubt it in the lease bit. Much of the talk from vets has been a harsh resistance staying abroad and wanting to come home. Then you get this little bit of fun: http://worldnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/29/10927844-child-witnesses-to-afghan-massacre-say-robert-bales-was-not-alone [msn.com]

Re:Robert Bales is a fall boy (2)

buglista (1967502) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523317)

Usually I'd say this was paranoia, but given what they did after Haditha, I've really got no trust left in justice meted out by the US army.

Re:Robert Bales is a fall boy (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523757)

The military didn't rule a way I think they should with my limited exposure to any of the evidence, clearly they cant be trusted.

You're thinking can't be trusted.

Re:Robert Bales is a fall boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523889)

Neither can YOUR intelligence

Re:Robert Bales is a fall boy (1)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523537)

Citation needed.

Re:Robert Bales is a fall boy (2)

ehiris (214677) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523703)

You're giving the Army too much credit. It's a fuckup caused by ignorance.

Re:Robert Bales is a fall boy (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523799)

hahaha. You don't really know the area or the people, do you?

I don't trust any eye witness reports.
a) Anti American groups will suddenly have eye witness report of things that didn't happen,. or exaggerate claims
b) You CAN have psychotic episodes with no memory. Sometime they can go on for very lng periods of time.

Army cover up?

I don't know, and neither do you.

yay an excuse! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39522841)

Ill call it now: this war crime will go unpunished as ALL American war crimes do.

Oh it's the drugs fault? Never mind then. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39522843)

How convenient. It wasn't the brave, heroic soldier's fault who literally bursts with integrity and honour. It was all the bad, bad drug. How unfortunate! The mass murderer really is a golly good chap after all. What a relief! Now please stop questioning our morals, leadership and environment in which soldiers are trained and live. Nothing to see here, good citizen.

Re:Oh it's the drugs fault? Never mind then. (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524163)

I know you don't want to admit this, but if the problem were "systemic" - i.e., caused by lax morals, bad leadership, and hostile environments endemic to the military - this type of event would be WAY, WAY more common. Tens and hundreds of thousands of deployed troops, and a small number snapping and doing things like this? They're the outliers, by a wide margin.

blame the drugs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39522875)

and then no person has to accept responsability

Can you say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39522891)

Firefly? U.S military reavers in Afghanistan.

Nasty stuff (5, Insightful)

Ion Berkley (35404) | more than 2 years ago | (#39522931)

I can attest to this drugs potency, I've used it on two instances, and on one I suffered mightily the day and night after I took my weekly dose. Another of my friends was hospitalized after a psychotic episode on this drug. A girl I used to date used this drug for 2+ years during a posting to Sierra Leone in the military, apparently without any long term effect...but well beyond any duration it had been certified and tested for...however the flip side is that the initial brigade that was sent to Sierra Leone in a hurry were not on an anti-malarial and a large number came down with serious Malaria. Luckily there are much better alternatives in 2012, and I think it's somewhat weak to see this in the press...if it's being doled out to troops in this environment still then that is wrong and someone should get on it now, but this tabloid journalism and new culture of Mil/Gov leaks to the worthless press is ridiculous. Solve the friggin' problem, don't play some political game of buck passing in the headlines

Re:Nasty stuff (2)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523035)

I used Lariam during an extended period of travel. My side effects consisted of extremely lucid and wonderful dreams. If the risks weren't so high, I'd recommend this as a recreational drug.

Re:Nasty stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523053)

During a gap year trip to Africa a friend was seriously troubled by 'voices' telling him to slay me and fellow tent mate while we slept.

It was a year after we returned that I found out. I was livid. It's hard to believe that there were people who knew my friend, and of his access to plenty of large camping knifes, wanted to kill me, and they didn't think it was appropriate to let me know :/

It is deeply troubling they give this to men with guns :(

Re:Nasty stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523125)

I believe it's used frequently because it is relatively inexpensive. I've had friends with significant psychotic and sun sensitivity side-effects on the drug. Alternatively, I've used a newer one - Malerone - on a couple of occasions, which had no noticeable side effects. The downside is that the Rx for a a two-week exposure is well over $100.

Re:Nasty stuff (1)

The Gaytriot (1254048) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523133)

Had a classmate who was an Army veteran, it's only what he told me, but he said after taking the drug he became enraged and broke windows in his house, tore siding off, punched holes in walls for a good 3 hours. I figured there were probably others that reacted similarly to him on the drug, or who reacted poorly to it in some other way.

Re:Nasty stuff (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523733)

After drinking milk, I was rear ended at a stop sigh; clearly I need to stop drinking milk.

Re:Nasty stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524049)

At least, stop drinking milk while driving.

Re:Nasty stuff (2)

AnObfuscator (812343) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523193)

I've also used it on a number of occasions (including some time in Sierra Leone), and I've only had mild side effects (some very, very strange dreams). However, I have seen others react very poorly, too. One of my friends contracted malaria and mono at the same time while in Guinea, and was dosed with massive quantities of lariam to treat it -- he had some serious psychological responses to it. Malaria really sucks, but so does this drug. BTW, when was your friend posted in Sierra Leone, and is he a Brit Para? I met a few of them when I was working for an NGO in Sierra Leone in 2001.

Re:Nasty stuff (1)

kbob88 (951258) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523283)

Yeah, I've used it for a few trips, and it does make you have really weird, bizarre dreams. Crazy stuff. I'm not sure I would go back on it. I didn't go psychotic or anything, but I'm a pretty even-keeled person. Anything that affects your brain that much could definitely have bigger consequences for someone who's a bit unstable to begin with.

Re:Nasty stuff (4, Informative)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523433)

The interesting things is that this story was on NPR the other day, except, they reported that it was incorrect to imply that the massacre triggered the review... the review was in the works before the massacre.

So to still be characterising it as such, several days after its come out that this association isn't true definitely is tabloid journalism.

Re:Nasty stuff (1)

mindaktiviti (630001) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523713)

I've used mefloquine before in India & Nepal. It gave me surreal nightmares on the night I would take the pill (once a week), and made things ever so slightly lucid, but that's it. On the warning note it says that it should only be taken by people who are mentally stable & secure and it can give you nightmares among other mental issues, but if you're a mentally strong person you should be fine.

Personally I wouldn't take it again even though I believe I am well in control of my mind & emotions, but the type of drug that you take depends on where you are going as different strains of malaria carrying mosquitos are resistant to different types of malarial drugs.

Lariam? Really? (4, Interesting)

jholyhead (2505574) | more than 2 years ago | (#39522941)

Having known someone who suffered from Lariam induced psychosis some years ago, I find it shocking beyond belief that they would give this stuff to men with guns.

Whether Bales was suffering from such psychosis at the time should be considered secondary - the US military was giving its soldiers a drug that can lead to violent psychotic episodes. The person who made that decision needs to be escorted to the cell adjoining Bales'.

If the EPA hadn't banned DDT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39522951)

they might never have had to use the drug.

Since the EPA didn't ban DDT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523641)

In what way did they have to use the drug at all?

Law and Order (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39522977)

Similar plot as an old "Law and Order" rerun that was on the other day.

Re:Law and Order (3, Interesting)

AuralityKev (1356747) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523123)

It was SVU - and I swear I thought this story was a parody recap of that. Right down to it being an anti-malaria drug.

How about they review their entire process? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523005)

US soldier goes on psychotic killing spree on civilians, the US Army evacuates that soldier to their country and the US government refuses to let this psycho face the law.

Compare and contrast to someone on non-US soil doing something not illegal and doing no damage. For five years the US government will INSIST that this person is extradited to face justice.

WORSE, the UK government lets them.

Possibly in case the US army personnel go psycho nutcase in the UK and spirited away.

(it's sort of the opposite of extraordinary rendition)

military/pharmaceutical complex (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523079)

Check out [blogspot.com] this documentary. Many if not most soldiers deployed are prescribed all kinds of nasty stuff.

BTW I just minted the term in my subject, I think, it's not from the linked video.

There was a radio story about this ... (1)

ninjagin (631183) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523087)

The radio series "This American Life" did a story about a guy who traveled to India and lost his marbles on Mefloquine. Look for "Contents Unknown".

Re:There was a radio story about this ... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523709)

No. it's story about a guy who lost his marbles, but ALSO happened to be on Mefloquine.

Not to be confused with Melfoquine; which will turn you blue~

I would like to insist... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523167)

That we review the controversial word 'controversial'. It is horribly overused and misused.

Mefloquine isn't 'controversial'. It has well-known psychiatric side effects and well-known efficacy as an antimalarial prophylactic.

/dev/null (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523291)

of course, if you're daft enough to join the military as cannon fodder ...

Useless, futile wars, ruined lives, for PROFIT! (2)

Paracelcus (151056) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523379)

And they will give you poison that will drive you insane!

Yeah, like I would tell my grandson to join this mess!

own experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523589)

From my own experience I can say that Lariam induces quite intensive dreams, but unfortunately I never got any hallucinations. Who needs LSD if legal alternative is available over the counter?

This drug is some killer shit. (0)

ehiris (214677) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523677)

It's like the LSD they've been warning us about. What doses is the insanity available in?

It's so silly how they keep blaming drugs when the problem is due to mental disorders caused by shell shock, religion, and all sorts of other traumatic experiences we put people into for "Freedom".

Yeah, it's the drug's fault. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523679)

The americans will find any excuse they can for this mass-murdering grunt, won't they? He'll never see a day of jail time. As long as it's muslims being shot and killed that's just fine by most of the "south will rise again" shitheads that have taken over the country.

If you're wondering why the rest of the world despises and wants to destroy you, keep a close eye on this case, and the inevitable result (Bales walking free). The americans aren't accountable for any of their actions as far as they're concerned -- I think September 11th was a good reminder of what will happen if they push the world too far. A well deserved reminder.

Incorrect (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523687)

The article is wrong. This study was ordered prior to the incident and is part of their regular reviews of all medical treatments.

There's another drug that they used to use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39523777)

With some rather pleasant non-psychotic side effects...

I'm just asking, whatever the fuck happened to Gin and Tonic?

I to methfloquine in Africa (2)

Adam Appel (1991764) | more than 2 years ago | (#39523951)

After about 6 weeks, I stopped taking it. The 2-3 days after my once a week pill (dose) I was out of my mind agressive and slightly disconnected with reality. I chose to risk malaria when traveling around east africa over the side effects of the drug. Others with me felt the same way though their side effects were a bit diffrent. When I returned to the states I did a litte research and found hallucinations were a rare side effect and a few people had compleat permanant mental breakdowns. I thought there was a class actin lawsuits and it was removed from the market (not that that always effect the military)

What did they expect? (1)

rocket rancher (447670) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524137)

Did it occur to anybody besides me that violent behavior is something that *should* be encouraged in a soldier? I'm not seeing how a drug with these observed effects gets anybody off the hook for that Afghan massacre -- not Bales, not his squad mates, nor his commanders. The massacre was the result of failure to manage Bales, period. He's a trained killer, and one with a history of deceiving people for monetary gain [reuters.com] predating his enlistment in the military. It also looks like the military ignored some red flags, including his propensity for violent confrontation, about him long before he deployed to Afghanistan, if the stories about his security clearance [businessweek.com] are even close to accurate.

How does the presence of this drug, with its documented behavioral side effects that is routinely supplied to soldiers, coupled with what looks like malfeasance on the part of the military in not acting on information that was publicly available on Bales, exculpate anybody for this senseless tragedy?

First hand account of Lariam Psychosis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524153)

Check out the story from David Maclean here: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/399/transcript

The story starts about 2/3 of the way down the page. Just search for Lariam, and it will put you in about the right spot.

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