Student’s death has chilling parallels for service personnel who were prescribed anti-malaria drug, Lariam

In a tragedy with chilling parallels for service personnel who were prescribed Lariam by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), there is growing concern that the death of Cambridge University student Alana Cutland – who threw herself from a small plane as it flew above Madagascar – might have been the result of a psychotic episode caused by the anti-malaria tablets she was taking.
There is still some confusion over exactly what anti-malarial medication Alana was taking, although the authorities are investigating whether her erratic behaviour could have been caused by Lariam (mefloquine), which has repeatedly been linked with side-effects including psychosis and is one of the recommended malaria prophylaxes across Africa – including Madagascar.
Hilary Meredith Solicitors is acting for hundreds of service personnel and veterans who were prescribed controversial Lariam and have 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).
“This tragedy is a chilling reminder of the dangers of Lariam,” said Hilary Meredith, Chair of Hilary Meredith Solicitors.
“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.
“Lariam should only be prescribed after a full review of past medical history – but 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. We believe this was reckless, irresponsible and in breach of their duty of care.”