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View Full Version : Military's Anti-Malaria Pill Seems To Cause Psychosis and Mas Murder...hmmm..



Peter Lemkin
03-27-2012, 09:19 PM
http://www.democracynow.org/shows/2012/3/27

Jan Klimkowski
03-27-2012, 09:30 PM
http://www.democracynow.org/shows/2012/3/27

Peter - is this the old Lariam story?

If so, I have seen a person go temporarily insane, psychotic, on the thing.

Less anecdotally, see this (http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500164_162-538144.html):



February 11, 2009 8:51 PM

The Dark Side Of Lariam

By David Kohn

Last summer, four soldiers from Ft. Bragg were accused of killing their wives. Two of the men committed suicide, and the other two await trial. So many brutal crimes, so similar, so close in time – raised questions, and the army sent a team to investigate.

One possible suspect was mefloquine - brand name Lariam, an anti-malarial drug. It was invented by the U.S. Army and is routinely given to soldiers deployed overseas. In scientific terms, Lariam can cause neuropsychiatric adverse events. In plain language, it can make lose your mind. No one questions Lariam's effectiveness in preventing the deadly disease of malaria. Millions of tourists and other world travelers have taken it with no problem.

But a significant number of people have seen and felt first hand its devastating side effects. Vicki Mabrey reports.

It was supposed to be a dream vacation, a safari to Kenya a year and a half ago for Dr. Robert Daehler and his wife Jane, seen here on home video. What you won't you see is how, deep in the African bush, she suddenly transformed before his eyes.

"She just became completely psychotic in the van," says Bob. "(She) started taking her clothes off and she had called people back from the dead. And they had a doctor at this lodge that came into the van. And she looked at Jane and she said, 'Did she take Lariam?' She said she had seen this in many Americans."

So had three other doctors in Africa, who confirmed the diagnosis. Jane Daehler was flown home, strapped to her seat with a bedsheet. At home, she spent a month in a psychiatric hospital, in and out of psychosis, with terrifying hallucinations. At the U.S. hospital, she was diagnosed with Lariam-induced psychosis.

"They were just horrific. I thought that people were trying to kill me all the time. I thought that my family was going to be killed," says Jane.

According to its own internal documents, Roche pharmaceuticals, Lariam's maker, has received over 3,000 reports of psychiatric problems associated with the drug, from nightmares, depression and hallucinations to paranoia, psychosis and aggression.

But could Lariam lead to something worse? That was the question raised last summer when Master Sgt. William Wright and three other Ft. Bragg soldiers were accused of killing their wives, all within a period of just under six weeks. Wright and another soldier were given Lariam, and Wright is considering using that as part of his defense. One of his fellow Green Berets thinks Lariam did play a role. John Lown, now an ordained minister, visits Wright in jail every week.

At first, Lown says, Wright was "very confused, he was very paranoid, and I was like 'Wow this is not the Bill that I knew.'… About the fifth week after that, he was, he was coherent. He was fine. He even said, 'Well, I'm thinking a lot better now.'"

What does Lown think caused his change? "I think it was the medication. It took about two months for the stuff to clear out of your system."

Lown and his unit had names for the days they took Lariam: "Everybody would call it manic Mondays or wild Wednesdays."

His wife, Debbie, says she'd see an immediate change when he was on Lariam: "He just turned ugly towards me… And when I mentioned that to other wives, they said that's the way their husbands are as well."

The other wives told her that while on Lariam, their husbands "were very negative, aggressive. Couple of them even complained how they'd be woke up in the middle of the night, shook, be called names. One running down the street without his clothes on, hollering, screaming."

How does she know it just wasn't the stress of the job? "He's been on other deployments where Lariam was not required and he didn't have these kind of problems," says Debbie.

Like her husband, Debbie Lown is convinced Lariam was a factor in some of the Ft. Bragg murders. She had even complained to military authorities as far back as 1996.

"I said, 'I'm not asking you to stop giving them the Lariam. I'm just asking you to better inform the soldiers of what they're taking, tell their wives, because they'll save marriages that way, they'll save lives that way,'" she recalls.

Jane Daehler agrees that knowing it is the Lariam can make all the difference. "If it wasn't for (my husband), I honestly think that somebody could have put me in a mental institution and thrown away the key."

Before the trip, her husband, a physician, says he was careful, since his wife had been treated for depression in the past and was on what he says was a low, preventative dose of Prozac. He checked with a travel clinic, the Centers for Disease Control website, and his physicians drug guide.

The information was written by drug companies for doctors and approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The key part is the warning section, which states: "Lariam should not be prescribed in patients with active depression or with a history of psychosis or convulsions."

"That's what I read," says Bob. "And Jane did not have active depression. She did not, it was 10 years earlier. She did not have psychosis ever. She never had seizures…. Nor did I. There was no reason why either of us couldn't take this drug."

But what was not in the warning section, what may have raised a red flag for the Daehlers are these disturbing side effects, depression, hallucinations, psychotic or paranoid reactions, aggression, all listed towards the end.

"They buried the lead. They took the important information that would've tipped off a doctor, and stuck it down there in a part that's not part of the warnings," says attorney Bernard Fischman, who represents the Daehlers in a lawsuit they've filed against Roche. Fischman argues that the company failed to properly warn them.

Can't Roche argue, that the information is there? "It doesn't call any attention to the real nature of this problem. There's no mention of psychiatric problems under the warning section of that package insert," says lawyer Paul Smith, who is also representing the Daehlers.

"There's alternatives that can be taken, there's just no reason that americans should be taking Lariam," says Bob Daehler.

Doxycycline, a common antibiotic, and malarone, approved two years ago, are both effective in preventing malaria and have fewer psychiatric side effects than Lariam.

Roche, the drug company, claims that Lariam causes serious psychiatric side effects in only one in 10,000 people. But Dr. Paul Clarke, an infectious disease specialist and the medical director of a large network of travel clinics in Great Britain, organized his own study, after he and other British doctors saw problems with much greater frequency.

"It was confusion, it was disorientation, it was anxiety and panic attacks," says Clarke. "There were episodes in which people were clearly divorced from reality and indeed had unusual symptoms that could be described as psychotic."

Their research confirmed the hunch. Not one in 10,000, but closer to one in a 140 suffered disabling side effects, defined as substantially disrupting their lives - the same kinds of side effects that Dr. Clarke had seen in his patients.

Why such a huge difference in the numbers? Because of the key difference between the term "disabling" in Dr. Clarke's study and the term "serious" as used by the drug company. In Roche's study, serious meant you had to be dead, in the hospital or have a long-term disability to count. It's an industry standard all drug companies use, but with that narrow definition, Dr. Clarke says, Roche's study may have failed to identify up to seventy times more patients with troubling side effects.

Based in part on Dr. Clarke's study, British authorities began to recommend using Lariam less often. Despite his concerns, though, he still says Lariam can be a useful drug.

"It's very easy to take once a week, it gives you very good protection, you get good compliance. And if you've taken it in the past and never had a problem with it I, for one, would be very sorry to see it go, because it's a good drug," he says. He only wants people to be better informed.

60 Minutes II asked both the FDA and the CDC about how well the American public is informed of Lariam's potential dangers. But both government agencies chose not to do an interview. The FDA did send a statement, saying that Lariam's benefits far outweigh its risks.

Roche also declined a request for an interview, but sent a statement saying, in part, that no prescription drug is free of side effects.

Roche also said there's no way for a physician to predict every person at risk for psychiatric side effects. Linda Perry considers her husband a perfect example of that.

In 1998, Linda and Chuck Perry left their Midwest ranch and their seven children to go on an African safari for their 30th wedding anniversary. Linda, a registered nurse, checked with her doctor, her pharmacist, and the local health department. For malaria protection, they all recommended Lariam.

"The first warning I ever got was from the safari guide in Africa," says Linda. "She says to me, 'Well, why do you take Lariam?' It's a hallucinogen very much like LSD.' And I said, 'the CDC recommends it.' And she said, 'Well, we never take it.'"

After four doses of Lariam, the Perrys were having night sweats and vivid nightmares. But everyone, including the CDC, had stressed taking the full dose of the drug, which meant taking it for four weeks after the trip. That's when Chuck Perry's real problems began.

"(He) didn't know where he was. I mean, he ran out in the yard," Linda Perry says. "I can remember tackling him in the yard saying, 'What are you doing? What are you doing?' you know. (He said) 'The neighbors are after me, somebody's after me.' And it was just bizarre.

Linda Perry says her husband had no prior history of depression or mental illness. Chuck Perry was hospitalized and tested repeatedly. A team of doctors became convinced that Lariam was responsible. Linda says that the doctors didn't know how to help him. Six months after returning home from Africa, Chuck Perry committed suicide.

"We had no way to know that this drug would be so powerful that it could alter his personality so much and damage him so much that he would, in fact, do that in some type of delusion or hallucination. That's what we didn't know," says Linda Perry.

But Roche did know something about Lariam and suicide. Over the past year, two UPI reporters, Dan Olmsted and Mark Benjamin, unearthed internal documents. They show that by the time Chuck Perry killed himself, the company knew of at least seven suicides, and 13 suicide attempts, by people living outside the United States - all associated with Lariam. But nowhere in its product information was there any mention of the word suicide.

After two years of trying to attribute Chuck Perry's suicide to other causes, Roche settled a wrongful death suit with Linda Perry last May.

Two months later, Roche dramatically changed its product information. Psychiatric side effects are now in the warning section, including, for the first time, rare cases of suicide.

But Roche says there is no proof linking its drug to suicide, and points out that Chuck Perry is the only reported American suicide of the more than five million who have taken Lariam in the U.S. that doesn't address the other suicide reports outside the United States, but Roche says those cases are well below the suicide rate in the general population. Roche declined to give current figures, saying that accurate numbers on all reported events are hard to come by.

Says Dr. Paul Clarke: "What is not clear is, how many people may have been permanently damaged, if any, or indeed may have gone as far as a psychotic episode, which might've led to some other ghastly accident."

But could it have led to murder at Ft. Bragg? In early November, the Army released its findings, which said that Lariam, in the army's words, does not explain the clustering of violent deaths there. As a result, the military probably won't change its policy on Lariam's use.

Should it be given to soldiers with guns? Says Clarke: "I would not give it to them. Because we do have alternatives and we do know they're effective."

Unlike the U.S., Great Britain, Germany and Australia did not give their soldiers Lariam in Afghanistan, opting instead for those alternatives. But as the United States prepares for the possibility of war with Iraq, some American troops are already being given Lariam. Copyright 2009 CBS. All rights reserved.

Peter Lemkin
03-28-2012, 03:11 AM
Yes, Lariam. Whether in the Afghani mass-murder case it is falsely being used as an excuse is not really the issue. It has been proven over and over to case dangerous/murderous psychosis in others. One wonders if this is an unintended 'side-effect' or the original 'side-intent' of the injection.

AMY GOODMAN: Did a controversial anti-malaria drug known to induce psychotic behavior help cause the massacre of 17 Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier earlier this month? That’s the question posed by a new exposé in the Huffington Post.

Reporter Mark Benjamin has revealed the Pentagon recently launched an emergency review of mefloquine, also known as Lariam. The drug is used to protect soldiers from malaria but has been known to have these side effects, including psychotic behavior, paranoia and hallucinations. It’s been implicated in a number of suicides, homicides, including within U.S. military ranks. In 2009, the Army decreed soldiers who have suffered traumatic brain injuries should not be given the drug.

The Huffington Post reports the Pentagon initially ordered the review of mefloquine in January. But this month, just nine days after Staff Sergeant Robert Bales was detained for killing 17 Afghan civilians in a shooting rampage, the Army issued an emergency decree calling for the review to be expedited. The Pentagon says there’s no connection between mefloquine and the murders, but it’s refused to confirm or deny whether Bales was given the drug. Bales reportedly suffered traumatic brain injuries while serving in Iraq in 2010.

Mark Benjamin is the reporter who broke this story for the Huffington Post. He’s joining us from Washington.

Mark, tell us what you found.

MARK BENJAMIN: Good morning, Amy.

Well, what I found is that the Army is looking into some very troubling circumstances. Well, the military wide is looking at some troubling circumstances. And what they’re looking into is, the military has discovered that in—it seems to be violating its own rules. In 2009, the military announced that this drug called mefloquine is in fact very, very dangerous, which is what I’ve been reporting on for many years, and basically said, "Let’s only use this drug in very, very limited circumstances in places like Afghanistan, and let’s definitely not give it to people who have any brain problems." Now, the reason why is because this is a relatively unusual drug called a quinolone, and it goes into—it crosses the blood-brain barrier and goes into the human brain and, in certain brains, can do very serious damage. So the military announced that this drug should not be given to people who have brain problems like traumatic brain injuries.

What the military has discovered is that out on the battlefield, those rules aren’t being followed, and some soldiers who do have these kinds of problems are getting this drug. And that obviously can increase the likelihood of a problem like a psychotic break. Now, this review just happens to be ongoing, apparently, at the time that Bales, the staff sergeant, went—apparently went on this shooting spree, killing 17 people including nine children. Now, the Army is just—and the military will not say whether or not he took this drug, but this review is happening at the time that these murders took place.

AMY GOODMAN: When you say that soldiers were taking it, did they have to take it? Were they forced to take it?

MARK BENJAMIN: Yes. I mean, when you’re out at an outpost—mostly, mefloquine is not used by the military because of the dangers, but at some outposts like, for example, relatively remote outposts in Afghanistan, like the one Bales was working at—he was at a relatively remote outpost in Kandahar—medics will sometimes resort to this drug because it’s easy to prevent malaria. You only have to take this pill once a week. Other, you know, pills that prevent malaria, you have to take every day. So it’s easy when you’re in a, you know, rough and tumble outpost like that to just give your guys one pill a week and not have to worry about malaria.

The concern is that at a place like that, they’re not screening people for contraindications, like, "Hey, did you have a head injury before? Because if so, you shouldn’t take this pill." The concern is that out there in the bush, they just sort of hand this pill out, and the people that shouldn’t get it do get it. Now, whether or not Bales took this drug, we do not know. The Pentagon will not say. If he took the drug, could it have led to this kind of psychotic behavior? Definitely. It says that on the drug label, and we’ve seen it time and time again, even with very elite Special Forces soldiers who have taken this drug and gone on murderous rampages and suicidal rampages.

AMY GOODMAN: Give us examples, Mark Benjamin.

MARK BENJAMIN: Well, I spent most of my time working with Peace Corps volunteers, who also took this drug and have had serious problems, and very elite Special Forces soldiers. The reason why I focused on Special Forces soldiers is that, statistically, they’re very unlikely to do things like commit suicide. They’re relatively stable people. I found a series of Special Forces soldiers who took this drug and then resorted to acts of violence, murder and suicide.

There was a—a typical pattern emerged. I can give you one example. In 2004, I concentrated on a very experienced Special Forces soldier named Bill Howell at Fort Carson, Colorado. Howell took the—seemed to be a very, very stable guy, took the drug during a tour in Iraq, had severe mental problems. And what’s interesting, I think, is that, typically, when a person has a problem with this drug, it’s actually relatively easy to figure out, because typically what happens is they don’t just have mental problems, they have physical problems, too. They have a rash. They have gastrointestinal problems. They have, often, vertigo. They’re dizzy. They have eye problems, loss of some of their vision. So, you know, it’s almost like someone is being poisoned. It’s not—you know, it’s not just that they’re acting funny. That’s what happened with Bill Howell. He had a psychotic break, I think you would describe it, beat up his wife, hunted her around the house with a—almost like an animal, out into the yard, and then put the gun to her, and then put the gun to his own head and shot himself in front of his wife, who described him as sort of just not being there, not being there.

One of the things that concerns me is that some of these soldiers, when we have an opportunity to interview them, seem to really be not well connected. I mean, they sometimes talk gibberish. I mean, it looks like brain damage, which is sort of what this attorney is describing how—that’s how Bales is behaving. Now, of course, that could have been caused by battlefield trauma. It could have been caused by his brain injury. I just think it’s important to pay attention to this story, because if it turns out that mefloquine comes up, it is true that this could have been a factor, if he took it, and in fact, it could have been a major factor.

AMY GOODMAN: What about the drug’s manufacturer?

MARK BENJAMIN: The drug has been manufactured by Roche Pharmaceuticals for several decades. What is interesting about this drug is it was actually, initially, invented by the U.S. Army. The Army invented it after—years after Vietnam, because malaria was such a problem in Vietnam. The U.S. Army invented it, gave the patent to a manufacturer named Roche Pharmaceuticals. Roche Pharmaceuticals has, for years, particularly over the last decade when I’ve been reporting on the drug, resisted, I think it’s fair to say, putting increasing warnings on its drug label. It has done so reluctantly under pressure from the FDA. The current label for Lariam, which is the brand name—mefloquine is the generic name—does list things like psychotic episodes, hallucinations, anxiety, that kind of thing.

The other thing that’s interesting about the drug label that Roche puts out is that it says on the drug label an interesting thing about Lariam. I mentioned how it crosses the blood-brain barrier. Sometimes people—or actually, frequently, when people have a problem with this drug, the percentage that do, once the damage is done in the brain, it’s done. In other words, it’s not like you can just wait until this drug gets out of your system, and then you’re OK. Typically, once the damage is done to your brain and your central nervous system, it’s done. It’s like being hit in the head with a hammer. And it says that on the drug label. It says that sometimes it doesn’t matter whether you stop taking the pills. If you have problems, they last, quote, "long after," unquote, people stop taking the drug. So it’s—I think it’s safe to say that it, in some situations, can be a very dangerous pill.

AMY GOODMAN: Looking at a report from CBS News—you’re talking about the soldier at Fort Bragg. Four soldiers accused of killing their wives, two of them committed suicide, the other two await trial. So many brutal crimes, so similar, so close in time, raise questions. The Army sent a team to investigate. All taking Lariam. Do you think that could—that is possible?

MARK BENJAMIN: Yes, I do. In fact, that was a separate case that I also spent a lot of time on the ground at Fort Bragg investing that case. Those soldiers did take Lariam. They did exhibit some very strange behavior and some of the physical problems. One of the soldiers, named Bill Wright, interestingly, did kill his wife and then killed himself in jail later. We did have a chance to talk with his attorney quite a bit. And he, again, exhibited some of these same problems. In fact, he, you know, a very elite soldier, had trouble putting together sentences while in prison. You know, he couldn’t talk right. This was, interestingly, a civil affairs soldier who was not exposed to combat. He was, you know, digging wells and that kind of stuff very early in the war in Afghanistan. So, you know, the only thing that we could find that would cause him to basically have a psychotic break was this pill. And he took the pill and had a psychotic break and killed his wife and ultimately killed himself.

AMY GOODMAN: Now soldiers who are suffering the side effects of Lariam have—are seeking compensation?

MARK BENJAMIN: That’s right. There are a variety of veterans and veterans’ groups that are concerned about the long-term implications of this drug. I mean, for example, there’s, you know, Veterans Against Lariam on Facebook. And it’s interesting how motivated some parts of the veterans’ community are about this drug. And, you know, one other thing I would note, whenever I write a story—I haven’t written about mefloquine for years. I had sort of given up, until this event took place. And when you write a story like I did in Huffington Post yesterday, boy, the email—I mean, it just pours in from veterans, also Peace Corps volunteers, but veterans saying that they have had some really troubling experiences with this drug. I don’t have time to vet all those stories, but, boy, if my inbox is any indication, there are a lot of soldiers out there—

AMY GOODMAN: Mark, what if you refuse to take it? What if you’re a soldier, and you’re just not going to let them give it to you, you’re not going to take it?

MARK BENJAMIN: There are cases where that occurs. Mostly what I have heard happens is soldiers realize there’s a problem with this drug, and they take it from the medic, and they tell the medic that they are taking it, and they throw it over their shoulder. I’m not aware of any case where anybody has said to a medic, "I’m not going to swallow this pill." They just quietly don’t do it. So, you know, I would say, hypothetically, disobeying a direct order in the military is a really bad idea and can get you into big, big trouble and get you thrown in jail. So it’s not like anybody has any choice about these things. But I—

AMY GOODMAN: And the Pentagon’s response to your article, Mark?

MARK BENJAMIN: The Pentagon response has been that, you know, "This review, we’re looking into this drug. Yes, there is a problem out there on the battlefield. Yes, it seems that this drug is going to some of the wrong people, people like Bales, who should not be given the drug. But it has nothing to do with the Bales events." They say it’s completely unrelated. And it may be. And then they say, "But we’re not going to talk about Bales and whether or not he took the pills." And I think that that’s a situation that probably will not stand. I think, one way or another, the Pentagon is going to have to come out and say either this guy took the drug, or he did not. And if he did not, you know, I’m done. I’m not going to write about it anymore. But I think it is a pertinent question that needs to be answered.

AMY GOODMAN: Is the military or other groups giving out Lariam to communities, for example, in Afghanistan, in Iraq?

MARK BENJAMIN: I’m not aware of it being handed to civilians, you know, for example, in Afghanistan or Iraq. But there are other government entities that have used it for years. One example that I think I mentioned was the Peace Corps. It’s easy to find Peace Corps volunteers who say they’ve, you know, had real problems with this drug. It’s very easy to find Peace Corps volunteers who said they started having problems with the drug and just didn’t take it. They’d rather just get malaria or risk getting malaria. There are State Department officials that I’ve run into who have been stationed around the world who have claimed—claim to have serious brain damage from taking the drug. So there—it’s mostly, you know, federal government officials, that this is a drug that the federal government invented and the government has been handing out to government officials for a long, long time.