An acceptable risk? The use of Lariam for Military Personnel - House of Commons Defence Committee Report. Published 24May 2016

Impact: Public policy Impacts

Description of impact

SUMMARY: Lariam is one of a number of anti-malarials used by the Ministry of Defence to protect military personnel against malaria. It is not the most widely used anti-malarial drug, but the MoD believes it to be an important part of the defence against malaria for Armed Forces posted to particular locations overseas. Lariam has a high risk profile and a minority of users experience severe side-effects. These side-effects are clearly highlighted by Roche, the manufacturer of Lariam. Our inquiry considered whether those risks outweigh the benefits of Lariam when other anti-malarial drugs, with a lower risk profile, are available to the MoD. The evidence we received highlighted some severe examples of the possible side-effects of Lariam in a military setting. While they may be in the minority, we do not believe that the risk and severity of these side-effects are acceptable for our military personnel on operations overseas. We understand that in very limited instances the prescription of Lariam may be unavoidable. However we believe that it should be considered as a ‘drug of last resort’ and be prescribed only to those who are unable to take any of the available alternatives. We also believe that if the MoD continues to prescribe Lariam, this must take place only after a face-to-face Individual Risk Assessment has been conducted. As part of that assessment we believe that each serviceman should be made aware of alternative anti-malarial drugs and be given the choice between Lariam and another suitable antimalarial drug. The MoD relies on advice from the Advisory Committee on Malarial Prevention (ACMP), but the ACMP does not tailor its advice for use in a military setting. We consider this to be inadequate and recommend that military specific advice be provided. We are also concerned about the lack of up-to-date research on the impact of the use of Lariam by military personnel, and we expect the MoD to rectify this. The Minister opened his evidence to us with a clear statement of support to those members of the Armed Forces who believe that they have been affected by the inappropriate prescription of Lariam. We welcome the Minister’s statement and look forward to a similar level of engagement by the Government with this Report.
Category of impactPublic policy Impacts

Keywords

  • lariam
  • mefloquine
  • military
  • defence
  • United Kingdom
  • parliamentary report