Lariam: MoD should stop giving soldiers drug which can induce psychosis, says MP

Johnny Mercer MP disagrees with the use of the anti-malarial medication

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The Independent Online

The Ministry of Defence should stop giving soldiers Lariam, an anti-malarial drug which can induce psychosis and other psychiatric problems, according to Conservative MP Johnny Mercer.

The former army captain, who served in Afghanistan and now sits on the commons defence select committee, wants the use of the drug suspended while a study into its side-effects is conducted.

He has received dozens of letters about Lariam in recent months. One, from a former colleague, states: “we cannot go on prescribing something to our blokes that is clearly having a significant negative effect on their mental health. Please do what you can.”

Mr Mercer, speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme yesterday, said: “I just think we really need to just halt putting this drug out there for our guys and girls to use, until a proper study has been done.”

And he told The i: “When Lariam initially came out it may well have been the best defence against it, all things considered. However that situation has now changed. Lariam does not sit alone on the shelf of anti-malarial prophylaxis, and some of our finest are paying an unacceptably high price for that protection.”

This comes just months after this newspaper revealed that almost a thousand British service personnel have needed psychiatric treatment after taking the anti-malarial in recent years.

Lariam, which is cheaper than alternatives such as Malarone and Doxycycline, is routinely used by the MoD, which has a stockpile of some 11,500 packs of the drug. Use of the drug is in accordance with guidelines by Public Health England, according to MoD officials.