“How can it be that we have a situation where this loyalty and duty of care that should be delivered by the surgeon general and the defence chiefs is a complete deficit?”
Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Marriott MBE (retd)
There are calls for the government to answer questions over a controversial anti-malaria drug given to UK soldiers.
A group of MPs says it wants to know how many servicemen and women have complained about side-effects after taking mefloquine – or Lariam as it is more commonly known.
The drug is given to soldiers serving overseas but can cause suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and depression.
The government argues that mefloquine’s use is based on expert advice.
In the US the drug is banned from use by Special Operational Forces because of its potential side-effects.
In a letter to Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, the defence select committee has asked what the government is doing to reassess the safety of the drug in the light of recent concerns about its safety.
In August, Conservative MP Johnny Mercer, a former Army office and Afghanistan veteran, called on the government to stop prescribing it until further research was carried out.
The letter also asks Mr Fallon what the government plans to do to help those who have suffered serious side-effects after taking it.
It says: “The use of Lariam is under increasing scrutiny and it is clear that the drug does not command the universal support of members of our armed forces.
“The number of cases of military personnel reporting serious side-effects after taking lariam is deeply disturbing and as a consequence the defence committee is minded to conduct an investigation into it use.”
Source: Sima Kotecha, Answers sought over Army’s use of malaria drug mefloquine, BBC Today, 9 September 2015.