Canadian Psychiatrist Dr Greg Passey on Mefloquine, PTSD and the Somalia Affair

This is an extract from a recent story by Sheila Pratt in the Edmonton Journal, covering her interview with former Canadian military psychiatrist Dr Greg Passey. One of the problems encountered by mefloquine veterans because of the nature of this drug’s side effects is that they are commonly misdiagnosed with PTSD or other psychiatric disorders, without receiving correct diagnosis or treatment for the chronic neurotoxicity syndrome which can be caused by mefloquine and other synthetic quinolines. Here, Passey agrees with many of the concerns raised by Canadian mefloquine veterans and describes his unsuccessful efforts to testify to the 1996 Canadian Government inquiry into the Somalia Affair.

former-army-psychiatrist-greg-passey-is-an-expert-in-treatin

Dr Greg Passey

Also listen to Mr John Dowe’s recent interview about mefloquine and the Somalia Affair here.


From Sheila Pratt, New push for ban on mefloquine in the Canadian military, Edmonton Journal, 30 January 2016.

In January 1996, army psychiatrist Dr. Greg Passey informed his bosses he would testify at the Somali inquiry into the conduct of the now disbanded Canadian Airborne Regiment.

Passey was convinced the anti-malaria drug mefloquine taken by the troops played a role in the shocking behaviour of two soldiers involved in the beating death of Somali civilian Shidane Aron in 1993 during a mission in that country.

“I had served with the airborne in Rwanda. They were really professional,” Passey said in a recent interview.

But something had gone wrong on that fateful night in Somalia. Passey figured mefloquine played a role.

“I thought the military should be aware of — that the courts should be aware — that it has the potential to have an extreme effect on individual behaviour.

“I wrote a letter to the committee in January 1996 and stated my opinion that mefloquine had significant side-effects … of paranoia and aggression.”

“Unfortunately, the Liberal government shut down the inquiry the week before I was to testify. And that was the end of my involvement in the issue until now.”

In recent months, former airborne veterans have started a campaign to ban mefloquine and re-examine its impact on former soldiers.

Passey, who went on to become an expert in post-traumatic stress disorder, agrees with their concerns.

He saw the side-effects when he was in Rwanda just after the genocide, where Canadian General Romeo Dallaire headed a small UN force. Passey was head of a mental health team sent to assess the condition of military members who witnessed the slaughter.

Passey took mefloquine himself. While he personally had no side-effects, he saw them in two members of his team and it made him uncomfortable.

“These two became isolated, mistrustful, paranoid and verbally aggressive. At one point in a meeting, one of them pulled out a knife and was playing with it.”

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An international network of military veterans, families and friends affected by the health impacts of the neurotoxic antimalarial drug, mefloquine.
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4 Responses to Canadian Psychiatrist Dr Greg Passey on Mefloquine, PTSD and the Somalia Affair

  1. Karen MacRae says:

    My husband was in Somalia, has PTSD and took Mefloquine, I have been voiced my opinion to May of his doctors, he is just not the same guy I married!! Now he suffers from ALS-C!! I myself took Mefloquine when I visited my husband, I am also ex Military!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hervey Blois says:

    For over a year now, I have been attending the Complex Chronic Disease Program in Vancouver, BC.
    Under the direction of Dr. Richard Arseneau, this program studies the effects of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Fibromyalgia, and Lymes Disease. However, it doesn’t stop at these ailment alone. This program deals with pain management, diet, pacing, naturopathy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and more.
    On admission to this program my main statement was, “I am always exhausted… I go to be exhausted and wake up feeling worse.”
    After hearing my complaints and being the first and only military patient, Dr. Arseneau agreed that my symptomatology could be connected to mefloquine toxicity. As we are aware, mefloquine toxicity afftect the central nervous system. However, since this was not a recognized diagnosis he investigated the individual symptoms dividing them into “overlapping” diagnoses (https://www.verywell.com/central-sensitization-715859). This is just one of many descriptions.
    For each disease process he established, I was able to apply for medical pension through Veterans Affairs Canada. The first diagnosis was Fibromyalgia. This is a well established disease and easy to justify to my symptoms dating back to my tour in Somalia (1992-93). Next was Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Since this diagnosis is one of several disease processes with overlapping sign and symptom criteria, it was married with the fibromyalgia.
    PTSD was already an established diagnosis, which today many recognize as a “diagnosis of convenience.” However, this too was linked to the Complex Chronic Disease process along with the next diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Peripheral Neuropathy is the next application.
    All of these illnesses related to the neurotoxicity of the long-term effects of mefloquine as describe in literature written by Dr. Remington Nevin and other of his colleagues. Dr. Nevin has been instrumental in moving forward with the eradication of mefloquine as a primary anti-malarial medication. (http://remingtonnevin.com/site/home.html)
    I spoke with a representative of Hoffman-LaRoche Canada about mefloquine. He stated that LaRoche no longer produces mefloquine because of all the bad publicity. He further stated that during the initial phase of introduction to the Canadian Armed Forces, LaRoche clearly expressed the need for individual assessment and consent of each member being involved in the trials. As we all know, this was never done.
    Unfortunately, there is a small drug company in Canada now producing mefloquine known as AA Pharma Inc. (https://www.aapharma.ca/en/products) As you might expect, they refuse to speak with me. Perhaps because I have no professional credentials. Nevertheless, shame on them for continuing production.
    Maybe you know someone who may be interested in pursuing this companies rationale for production.
    Sheila Pratt has been a god-send to this cause, attacking it from any angle that comes her way.
    This website has been truly inspirational in its promotion of disbanding mefloquine from existence in the same way the Canadian government disbanded the Canadian Airborne Regiment in 1995.
    John Dowe is responsible for the escalation of positive action about this destructive drug through the establishment of this website, Twitter involvement, Facebook, and the inclusion of countries like Australia, Ireland, United Kingdom, and the United States of America, and, of course, Canada.
    Thank you to everyone who has chosen to join this movement. Militi Succurrimus (Come to the aide of the soldier).

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  3. Rosemary Stephen says:

    At last research that pinpoint to an interaction between a drug and a disease. Since mefloquine is a synthetic drug (possibly a petrolium derivative), it is one of many drugs that has negative effect on the body. It is a well know medical fact that a segment of the human population is highly sensitive to drugs. They suffer from severe side effects which have negative impacts on their health. In this case mental health.
    The consequences of the Somalia incident are quite severe. In addition to the negative publicity in the news media, a whole Regiment was punished. It brought on shame and embarassement to the Canadian Forces as well as to every one serving our country. These consequences are still lingering amongs the troupes. Yes it did bring about changes in policies and procedures, but it took many years for the wound to heal.
    Where are the two sodiers now? Because of their sensitivity to mefloquine, they have become outcast. They could have had a promissing carrier in the CAF, even become leaders, but this will never be. I stronly suggest that a parade where the Airborn Regiment is reinstated be done.The two soldiers must be present for this parade to heal their wounds.

    Having served under Dr Passey many years, He is not the type of person who make statement lightly. He seeks the cause an effect of human behaviour and when he says “this is why” we better listen to him.

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  4. Rick Morrissey says:

    My family and I were posted to New Delhi in 1992 to 1996 , I worked with the Military Attaché in the High Commission. We were given mefloquine to take for the malaria. My children were 15, 14 and 9. I remember asking them at one point if they were taking the medicine, they said they had stopped because there were problems with sleep and dreams. My wife and I stopped soon after. One of the Canadian Exchange students attending the Indian Staff College in Wellington, Southern India told me that his young children were taking mefloquine as well. The children were also experiencing terrible nights with nightmares. I do not remember if the Canadian civilian families sent to New Delhi were taking mefloquin or something different. I do remember some stating that they were not taking anything for malaria.

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