- Ministry of Defence (MoD) likely to deliver “poor and shoddy” response to Lariam crisis this week
- Mefloquine information signposting service – launched this week – is flawed
Although Lord Dannatt, the former head of the British army, has apologised to troops who took the controversial anti-malaria drug Lariam under his command, the MoD is likely to issue a “poor and shoddy” response which “leaves more questions than answers” – according to lawyers who have been contacted by more than 850 former service personnel who were prescribed the drug and suffered from a range of mental health issues and neuropsychiatric side-effects, including hallucinations, severe depression, seizures, sleep disturbances and anxiety.
The Government will this week release its response to the House of Commons Defence Committee report, An acceptable risk? The use of Lariam for military personnel, which recommended the end of the use of Lariam for our armed forces, except in very restricted cases.
Philippa Tuckman, military negligence specialist and partner at Hilary Meredith Solicitors provided evidence to the Inquiry. She acts for injured service men and women, including many of those whose lives have been affected by Lariam.
Commenting on the Government’s imminent response, Philippa Tuckman said:
“Despite Lord Dannatt’s admission, the MoD is likely to simply pay lip service to the Defence Committee’s recommendations while actually doing the bare minimum to help servicemen and women whose lives have been affected by Lariam.
“We do not believe the MoD will provide any useful information or advice which will lead to soldiers realising they have had inappropriate treatment. This is bound to result in fewer service personnel getting the medical and financial support they desperately need.”
The MoD has also this week launched the Mefloquine information signposting service for former and serving personnel who have concerns about their experience of Lariam.
Philippa Tuckman added:
“This service is flawed in many ways. For example, it makes no mention of the particular medical concerns surrounding Lariam as opposed to any other medication, and implies that as all medicines have side effects there is nothing special about this one.
“Anyone looking to it for information would find it hard to see why or whether they ought to be worried. In my view, it obeys the letter but not the spirit of the recommendations.”
“The evidence given to the Inquiry suggests that the MoD will only admit to some occasional failures and there will be no substantial admission to what we believe has been a wholesale failure in their duty of care. It is likely to be a poor, shoddy and wholly inadequate response which leaves more questions than answers.”