Hilary Meredith Solicitors has now been approached by over 3000 serving army personnel and veterans who were prescribed controversial anti-malaria drug Lariam and suffered mental health issues and neuropsychiatric side-effects as a result.
Having been developed in the US following the Vietnam War, Lariam was made available in the UK in 1989 and was quickly adopted by the British Armed Forces as its antimalarial drug of choice.
Consumers of Lariam, both inside and outside the forces, soon reported adverse effects of a neuropsychiatric nature leading to regulatory intervention at the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the British National Formulary (BNF).
Hilary Meredith, Chair of Hilary Meredith Solicitors Ltd, labelled the MoD’s use of Lariam as “reckless, irresponsible and in breach of their duty care”.
“It is believed that over 17,000 members of the armed forces may have been prescribed Lariam,” said Hilary.
“Most drugs have side effects but with Lariam, which can cause psychiatric abnormalities, it is essential that the recipient is made aware of the long list of potential symptoms. For decades, the MoD failed to do this.
“The military’s basic duty of care towards service personnel is to take reasonable steps to avoid foreseeable problems, yet they prescribed Lariam without providing the correct advice and support.”
Concluded Hilary: “Perhaps the most damning indictment of the MoD’s conduct was an interview by former Army Chief Lord Dannatt in which he admitted refusing to take Lariam despite it being given to his troops. Lord Dannatt also said his son Bertie had suffered from mental health problems after taking Lariam and apologised to troops under his command for allowing them to take it.”
Following a House of Commons Defence Committee report in 2016, the Government ended the use of Lariam in the armed forces except in restricted cases. The drug is now only prescribed to service personnel after a face-to-face check-up but the MoD has so far refused to accept the Defence Committee’s recommendation that Lariam should be a ‘drug of last resort’.