Malaria drug users go to court over side effects
Tuesday 06 February 1996
Lawyers acting for more than 100 people who have suffered severe side effects which they are convinced were caused by a leading antimalarial drug have applied for legal aid to sue the manufacturers.
Sufferers have complained that the mefloquine drug Lariam, prescribed by their GPs, caused symptoms so extreme that some have been unable to work for almost a year after they finished the course of tablets.
Little hard evidence exists to link the side effects to the drug, made by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Hoffman-La Roche, but doctors say the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming and have called for a large-scale independent study.
The company recognises that Lariam, acknowledged as the strongest and most effective antimalarial drug, can cause severe side effects which can be fatal, but argue the risks are extremely low - as few as one in 10,000.
But growing numbers of Britons who have taken Lariam - used as some strains of malaria have become resistant todrugs such as chloroquine - have reported the symptoms first highlighted in the BBC Watchdog programme.
Dr Gordon Cook, at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in London, has seen many patients who believe it has induced seizures, epileptic fits, manic depression and panic attacks.
"I am quite clear that these problems are common and of major significance," he said. "So much so that people are not taking the Lariam and leaving themselves open to . . . malaria."
One of those who claims to have suffered and become involved in the "legal class action" is Stuart Waddell, 33, from Coventry, who has not been able to work since last April.
He took Lariam before going on a business trip to Malaysia and was affected even before he left home.
"I came over in this terrible, sweaty condition. My heart started racing and I felt nauseous . . . it took me 30 minutes to get a grip of myself," he said.
The symptoms continuedwhen he returned home. "I went to work, but only stayed for three hours," said Mr Waddell, who has four children. "I was a totally different person. I used to be self-confident, easily able to deal with pressure situations. I told my wife I thought I was going mad."
Christiane Gaoziou, the solicitor acting for the complainants, said she was confident the group would be given legal aid.
However, a spokesman for the Department of Health said any risks from Lariam were still considered extremely low.
Hoffman-La Roche said it constantly reviewed Lariam's performance but had discovered no changes in the side effects it caused.
- 1 Benedict Cumberbatch says Hollywood is better for black British actors
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 3 UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
- 4 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 5 Warriors in ancient Iraq suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder more than 3,000 years ago, say researchers
Rowan Atkinson to sell £10 million McLaren 'supercar' he crashed into a tree and a lamppost
UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
US blames Russia after rocket attacks in Ukraine kill at least 30
Warriors in ancient Iraq suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder more than 3,000 years ago, say researchers
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
£40000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer - ne...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a Chargehand to join ...
£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...