Research shows the anti-malaria drug mefloquine hydrochloride—formerly sold under the brand name Lariam—might cause psychiatric abnormalities, suicidal ideations and behaviors, and potentially permanent nerve damage. Because of these psychiatric side effects, the drug’s manufacturer, Hoffmann-La Roche, pulled it from the market in 2008. The U.S. Army continued to administer it to soldiers, however, until 2011, when the army ceased prescribing Lariam even for soldiers deployed in malaria-prone regions such as Afghanistan. In July 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified the public that mefloquine products’ drug labels would be updated with a black box warning—the agency’s most serious kind—concerning the aforementioned side effects.
What Is Lariam and What Is It Prescribed For?
Once prescribed to treat acute malaria infections, Lariam is the brand name for the drug mefloquine hydrochloride, a synthetic analogue to the ancient anti-malaria drug quinine (quinine sulfate). How it works is still not understood, but it is believed to be toxic to the parasites that cause malaria. It reduces the intense, debilitating shivering that malaria causes.
Although the U.S. Army discovered and began using mefloquine since the 1970s, Hoffmann-LaRoche didn’t receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval to market Lariam until 1989. The company pulled Lariam in 2008, however. Until then, it came in the form of 250 mg oral tablets taken weekly to prevent malaria infection. Upon diagnosis, malaria patients would begin taking five pills at a time.
Lariam Might Cause Suicidal Ideations and Behavior Side Effects
The FDA documented cases of individuals who took the drug and later reported the following symptoms, even after treatment concluded:
- Unusual behavior;
- Severe anxiety;
- Depression; and
- Suicidal ideation.
An Associated Press story reported that U.S. Military personnel claimed to have experienced the following additional symptoms:
- “Complete mental breakdowns”;
- Short-term memory loss;
- Permanent damage to one’s sense of balance; and
Army studies claimed the rate of psychiatric problems was one per 2,000-13,000, but Army Major and epidemiologist, Dr. Remington Nevin, published research showing that Lariam might be toxic to the brain, which causes the psychiatric and suicidal symptoms.
Finally, the FDA’s July 2013 drug safety communication included the following adverse side effects:
- Ringing in the ears
- Convulsions or seizures
The FDA advises that these side effects can continue for months or years after mefloquine treatment ends.
RLG’s Lariam Lawyers Will Make Things Easier
The process of demanding compensation for the harm you’ve suffered can be complicated, even if it doesn’t seem fair that you should have to go through even more trouble to be made whole again. The Lariam lawyers at the Rottenstein Law Group believe that obtaining legal satisfaction from those who harmed you shouldn’t require more hardship. That’s why we do everything we can to streamline the process, and we will file a Lariam lawsuit on your behalf if necessary.
If you have taken Lariam and believe it harmed you, contact RLG today.