Statement by Major Stuart McCarthy on Extensive Criminal Misconduct by Senior Australian Defence Force Officials

1448769736204The Australian Defence Human Research Ethics Committee (ADHREC) minutes reported by The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald this morning provide further damning evidence of the extensive harm caused to Australian soldiers by the unethical drug trials conducted by the Army Malaria Institute (AMI) in Timor Leste in 2000-2002, and the ADF’s 15-year long attempted cover-up. During my recent testimony to the Senate inquiry I called for a judicial inquiry into the conduct of the AMI, ADHREC and other parties. This evidence reinforces the need for an urgent judicial inquiry into what appears to be extensive criminal misconduct on the part of numerous senior ADF officials over many years. Such an inquiry should include a full audit of the records of every subject involved in the trials and their subsequent medical histories. The AMI and its contemptuous treatment of Australian soldiers as human guinea pigs is a dark stain on the hard-earned reputation of the Australian Army. Those soldiers, their families and the public now deserve to be told the truth, and the perpetrators of these crimes must now be held fully accountable before the law.

ADHREC Minutes from 2001-2005

These are extracts from the heavily redacted ADHREC minutes from 2001-2005 in relation to the 2000-2002 AMI clinical trials of mefloquine and tafenoquine conducted in Timor Leste. The minutes were obtained by Paul Cleary from The Australian via a freedom of information request and are now publicly available. The committee repeatedly raised its concerns about the conduct of the trials, the serious neuropsychiatric side effects of mefloquine and tafenoquine, and called for AMI to convey information openly and honestly to those involved in order to avoid the perception of a cover-up. Unfortunately this so-called “scrutiny” was not pursued in any substantial way.

On 26 February 2001 ADHREC stated that “it became apparent that mefloquine had potentially serious side effects of which [it] had been previously unaware. In particular, CNS side effects of depression and psychosis caused considerable concern to the Committee, especially were they to occur in deployed troops.”

ADHREC Minutes 1 - 26 Feb 2001

Extract of ADHREC Minutes, 26 February 2001

On 25 February 2002 ADHREC stated that “whilst the information [in one of the trial reports] was reassuring, it would be preferable to have all information conveyed openly and honestly to every member involved in current and previous Tafenoquine trials. This will markedly reduce the risk of a perceived cover up.”

ADHREC Minutes 2 - 25 Feb 2002

Extract of ADHREC Minutes, 25 February 2002

On 12 August 2002 ADHREC stated that “The apparent high incidence of adverse events was of concern to the Committee. … the decision was made that AMI would only report on adverse events that were possibly drug related.”

ADHREC Minutes 3 - 12 Aug 2002

Extract of ADHREC Minutes, 12 August 2002

On 25 November 2002 ADHREC stated that “There was still a deal of unease among the members with regard to this [research] Protocol. … there were other problems that the Committee felt needed to be addressed. These included … a concern that the protocol presented was different to the research being proposed …”

ADHREC Minutes 4 - 25 Nov 2002

Extract of ADHREC Minutes, 25 November 2002

On 5 July 2004 ADHREC stated that “members requested that all researchers advise ADHREC of all serious adverse event reports.”

ADHREC Minutes 5 - 5 Jul 2004

Extract of ADHREC Minutes, 5 July 2004

On 28 February 2005 ADHREC stated that “The [research protocol] modification details had not been clarified or presented from the last meeting.”

ADHREC Minutes 6 - 28 Feb 2005

Extract of ADHREC Minutes, 28 February 2005



An international network of military veterans, families and friends affected by the health impacts of the neurotoxic antimalarial drug, mefloquine.
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29 Responses to Statement by Major Stuart McCarthy on Extensive Criminal Misconduct by Senior Australian Defence Force Officials

  1. lawrence cattanach says:

    yes, i would like to know what i was on.

    i was with 1 rar in 2000-2001 tour and im having alot of memory problems and depression

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I personally would like to know which units were a part of this trial.


  3. Michelle says:

    We went to Indonesia in 98 and we knew about the drug issues then. I think you will find the navy and RAAF are also affected and for a few years before this trial.


  4. Mrs B Taylor says:

    Soldiers are not only being used as guineapigs they are also at risk from incompetent pharmacy staff. My hubby had a hernia repair done and was sent home with incorrectly labelled pain meds, needless to say he was rather sick from the amount of pain and being rushed back to hospital early morning because he was vomiting so hard busted some internal stiches. It was all hushed up as usual.


  5. R Bennett says:

    Part of my unit were on mefloquine trials in 1989 in PNG. The people running the trial went to the area we operated in afterwards because 3 of our crew still got malaria. Apparently they were looking for the type of mosquito that carried the strain that was unaffected by the drug.


  6. Damien says:

    Was this used in Bougainville over 1998-2002?


    • Hi Damien. Mefloquine may have been prescribed for some Bougainville veterans as it was the second-line anti-malarial after doxycycline, with ADF malaria policy stating that 5-10% of personnel don’t tolerate the latter. However the big concern for Bougainville veterans is that approximately 1,000 of them were used as subjects to trial a similar neurotoxic quinoline drug, tafenoquine. Tafenoquine was not and is not approved by the TGA and these trials were also unethical. The trials were conducted by Lieutenant Colonel Peter Nasveld, who was subsequently awarded a phd for his efforts.

      In 2009 researchers affiliated with the US Walter Reed Army Institute for Research (WRAIR) found that tafenoquine is “the only anti-malarial more neurotoxic than mefloquine.”

      Bougainville veterans should immediately contact the Army Malaria Institute to ask for a copy of their file if they were involved in these trials.

      If AMI doesn’t respond you should complain to the Australian Federal Police, because they have been destroying or tampering with evidence of their own crimes related to the Timor trials.


      • Kim Loadsman says:

        Would there be any record on my medical file? I served in Bougainville during that period and am still serving.


      • Hi Kim. Tafenoquine was trialled by the AMI on more than 1,000 ADF personnel in Bougainville. This drug has never been approved by the TGA, and in 2009 was found by WRAIR researchers to be “even more neurotoxic than mefloquine.” All of the tafenoquine trials conducted by the AMI’s Lieutenant Colonel (Dr) Peter Nasveld in Bougainville and Timor are incorporated into his PhD thesis here:

        If you were a subject in these trials the records are probably not included in your ADF medical file, however AMI keeps records on every clinical trial subject. You should contact them directly to obtain your file, which they are obliged to provide by law:

        If you have difficulties with AMI, please contact the Australian Federal Police and the media, in order to prevent AMI continuing to destroy evidence of their own serious crimes.


  7. Mrs T. Bell says:

    Is ivermectin in the same family of drugs? My husband was given this upon his return from Bougainville at the end of 1999.


  8. Mrs T. Bell says:

    Great thanks 😃 That’s a relief.


  9. J. Reardon says:

    Was the Navy involved in this as well


  10. Gavin Lee says:

    I went to Cambodia in 1992 for 11 months and i believe we were on Doxy??? something. It made a hell of a lot of the troops sick as. Was/is there anything about this drug as the powers that be at the time were MORE THAN HAPPY to tell everyone that this was a new trial drug and we MUST take it or be charged? A lot of us (me included) stopped taking it after about 3 months.


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