The MoD has responded to the Defence Committee’s findings on the use of Lariam for military personnel, stating that Lariam will only now be prescribed to service personnel who have undergone a face-to-face risk assessment.

It has been estimated that at least 17,368 personnel were prescribed Lariam between the start of April 2007 and the end of March 2015.

Evidence presented to the Defence Committee during the course of its inquiry has suggested that individual assessments were and are still not taking place on a routine basis.

The MoD’s failure to provide individual assessments has meant that military personnel haven’t been given sufficient warnings about the side effects associated with the medication, nor have they been screened for pre-existing health complaints which meant that they shouldn’t have been prescribed Lariam.

Service personnel will now be informed about alternative medication and given a choice about which anti-malarial they wish to take.

This follows the admission made by former Amy chief Lord Dannatt that he refused to take Lariam after witnessing the impact it had on his son. Lord Dannatt has apologised to troops who were given Lariam while he was head of the Army. He also suggested the MoD was afraid of admitting that the drug had harmed troops because it would open the “floodgates” to compensation claims.

What happens next?

The MoD is currently working on a revised malaria prevention policy. It has also established a point of contact for personnel who have concerns about Lariam, although early indications are that this is not proving particularly helpful.

The Defence Committee has said that it will continue to monitor the MoD’s policy in relation to malaria protection by requesting six monthly updates on the use of Lariam.

We are very disappointed in the MoD’s response:

  • It has failed to implement medical regulations created to protect the health of service personnel.
  • It has failed to acknowledge its own failings and commit to compensating those service personnel whose lives have been affected by Lariam.
  • It continues to claim that Lariam will be the most effective way of protecting service personnel, despite strong evidence to the contrary.

We need greater commitment to the safety of service personnel, to ensure that no one else is exposed to the significant risks associated with the use of Lariam now and in the future.

We will have to wait and see whether the proposed risk assessments can be successfully implemented if the MoD insists on continuing to prescribe Lariam.

A copy of the Defence Committee’s report.

A copy of the Defence Committee’s report.

My blog on the Defence Committee’s.