MOD to ban use of Roche anti-malaria drug, Lariam, for armed forces

pharmafile | May 24, 2016 | News story | Manufacturing and Production, Sales and Marketing anti-malaria drug, armed forces, lariam, mod 

A parliamentary committee has published a new report urging the armed forces not to use anti-malaria drug, Lariam, due to its potential to cause severe psychological side-effects.

The report urges that the drug, which is manufactured by Roche, should only be used as a “drug of last resort”. The report concludes that prescribing Lariam should be restricted to three conditions: in those who are unable to tolerate any of the available alternatives; only after a face-to-face individual risk assessment has been conducted; and only after the patient has been made aware of the alternatives and has been given the choice between Lariam and another suitable anti-malaria drug.

Although Roche has laid down stringent conditions which must be met if the drug is to be prescribed safely, the report concluded that there was “no reason to disbelieve the very strong anecdotal evidence that such conditions have been ignored in dispensing it to large numbers of troops about to be deployed.”

Although certainly not the most common anti-malaria drug prescribed by the MOD, the report highlights that at least 17,368 members of the British armed forces were prescribed Lariam at least once between 2007 and 2015. Of those, the report highlights some severe examples of side effects that certain personnel endured under the drug.

The report concludes: “It is our firm conclusion that there is neither the need, nor any justification for continuing to issue this medication to service personnel except when the three conditions listed above have been met.”

Sean Murray

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