The Ministry of Defence is under increasing pressure to ban the use of the anti-malaria drug Lariam, as the reported cases of damaging side-effects relating to its use continue to rise.
It has been reported that nearly 1000 British military personnel have now sought medical treatment for psychosis and other psychiatric problems having taken the anti-malarial drug in recent years. There are now fresh calls from Plymouth MP Johnny Mercer, an ex-serviceman himself, for the MoD to place an immediate ban on the use of Lariam after it was revealed the ministry has a stockpile of some 11,500 packs of the drug ready to be used.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Mercer said, “I just think we really need to halt putting this drug out there for our guys and girls to use, until a proper study has been done.”
Despite the threat of a defence select committee enquiry into the use of the drug, the MoD have so far refused to halt its use with defence officials insisting the drug is in line with guidelines set out by Public Health England on malaria prevention.
Jenny Holt, an expert solicitor in claims involving military personnel, assesses the legal implications should the MoD be found to have negligently administered the drug to those who are now suffering from side-effects:
“This could have serious implications for the MOD. Service men and women who have been psychiatrically injured as a result of taking Lariam may well have a civil claim for compensation, not only for the acute mental distress and illness caused by administering the drug but also associated financial losses both past and future. If medically discharged as a result of these injuries such losses are likely to be considerable, and far exceed any sums likely to be awarded under the tariff-based Armed Forces Compensation Scheme”