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Army Reviews Controversial Drug after Afghan Massacre

Hugh Pickens writes (1984118) writes | more than 2 years ago

The Military 0

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Time Magazine reports that after the massacre in which Staff Sgt. Robert Bales allegedly massacred 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 US military. For years the military used the weekly pill to help prevent malaria among deployed troops, however in 2009 the US 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 however, 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.” "I know there's a lot of discussion about the malaria drug, and I don't know yet (whether Bales was taking it)," says Bales' attorney, John Henry Browne. "We have to get his medical records. And I don't know. I wouldn't be surprised. But I don't know that.""

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