Global Politics

FDA Issues its Strongest Warning on Anti-Malaria Drug Lariam

This story is a part of

Human Needs

This story is a part of

Human Needs

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Lariam anti-malaria drug (Photo: James Gray King/Flickr)

The anti-malaria drug has been used for years by the military and by international travelers. Mefloquine, sold as Lariam in the US, must now carry a "black box" warning on its label because of the drug's serious neurological and psychiatric side effects.

Dr. Remington Nevin, a former Army epidemologist who's done extensive research on the drug's side-effects—including depression, anxiety, nightmares, paranoia, delusions and hallucinations—helped persuade the FDA to issue the warning.

"Mefloquine belongs to a class of drugs known to be neurotoxic which is associated with permanent brain injury," he says. "It remains licensed for use, but I think the latest warnings by the FDA will spell the demise of mefloquine among most travelers."

Unfortunately, said Dr. Nevin, the drug is still being used by the US military but only as a "last resort."

Lariam/Mefloquine has been blamed for causing a number of violent deaths.

"The military has had a hard time educating its medics and service members of the true dangers of the drug."