Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare South Fiona O’Loughlin has called on the Government to end the practice of prescribing Lariam for use by Defence Forces personnel assigned overseas. Lariam is a controversial medication used to prevent or treat malaria. Serious side effects include potentially long term mental health problems and neurological issues.

Deputy O’Loughlin made the comments after attending a briefing by former soldiers and their families on the problems they have faced since being prescribed the drug.

Deputy O’Loughlin said, “The use of Lariam has caused serious problems for the Defence Forces. 50 serving or former members of the Defence Forces have come forward to say that they have had an adverse reaction to the drug. It has caused them severe hardship and distress.

“Serious concerns have been raised for many years about the use of Lariam as an anti-malarial drug for troops serving overseas. Fianna Fáil has believed for some time now that the use of the drug should come to an end. Last year the British Minister of Defence stated that at least 1,000 former service men and women suffered from severe psychiatric and mental health problems as a result of being exposed to this dangerous drug.

“The Defence Forces Training Centre in The Curragh is home to 1,500 Defence Forces personnel. I have had numerous families of affected soldiers contact me to highlight the serious concerns they have regarding the use of Lariam in the Defence Forces. It’s causing severe hardship and the practice must come to an end.

“There are a number of medical experts from around the world who have pointed out the serious problems associated with Lariam. The British Armed Forces have acted on this by banning the use of the drug. Despite this it continues to be prescribed to Defence Forces personnel serving overseas. This is an unacceptable practice which must come to an end.

“Fianna Fáil has raised this issue directly with Minister of State Paul Kehoe who has responsibility for the Defence Forces. I will continue to raise it with the Government until we get decisive action on this issue. There are alternative anti-malarial drugs available to the Defence Forces which will protect personnel while not impacting on their physical and mental wellbeing,” concluded Deputy O’Loughlin.