Monday, March 26, 2012

Military Scrambles To Limit Malaria Drug Just After Afghanistan Massacre

It is looking more and more like the medication Bales was on was part of this.

When I wrote about the connection between what Bales is accused of doing and medications he was probably on for PTSD and TBI, I didn't think about Mefloquine. Army: PTSD treatable; some diagnosed return to war,,,with meds
By most accounts, Sgt. Robert Bales has PTSD and TBI. If true, then sending him back into combat, more than likely, included medications for both. Is anyone looking into what medications he was on and if they played a role in what happened more than PTSD and TBI? Most medications the troops are given come with clear warnings about side effects.

Looks like I should have.

Robert Bales Charged: Military Scrambles To Limit Malaria Drug Just After Afghanistan Massacre
Posted: 03/25/2012
Mark Benjamin

WASHINGTON -- Nine days after a U.S. soldier allegedly massacred 17 civilians in Afghanistan, a top-level Pentagon health official ordered a widespread, emergency review of the military’s use of a notorius anti-malaria drug called mefloquine.

Mefloquine, also called Lariam, has severe psychiatric side effects. Problems include psychotic behavior, paranoia and hallucinations. The drug has been implicated in numerous suicides and homicides, including deaths in the U.S. military. For years the military has used the weekly pill to help prevent malaria among deployed troops.

The U.S. Army nearly dropped use of mefloquine entirely in 2009 because of the dangers, now only using it in limited circumstances, including sometimes in Afghanistan. The 2009 order from the Army said soldiers who have suffered a traumatic brain injury should not be given the drug.

The soldier accused of grisly Afghanistan murders on March 17 of men, women and children, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq in 2010 during his third combat tour. According to New York Times reporting, repeated combat tours also increase the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Bales' wife, Karilyn Bales, broke her silence in an interview Sunday with NBC's Matt Lauer, airing on Monday's Today show. "It is unbelievable to me. I have no idea what happened, but he would not -- he loves children. He would not do that," she said in excerpts released Sunday.

On March 20, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Jonathan Woodson ordered a new, urgent review to make sure that troops were not getting the drug inappropriately. The task order from Woodson, obtained by The Huffington Post, orders an immediate “review of mefloquine prescribing practices” to be completed by the following Monday, six days after the order was issued.
read more here

This was posted here January, 2008. Just goes to show what they new back then. It is a long post with some of the results of what they got wrong in human terms.

VA issued warning on Lariam in 2004
VA Warns Doctors About Lariam
United Press International
25 June 2004
WASHINGTON - The Department of Veterans Affairs is warning doctors to watch for long-term mental problems and other health effects from an anti-malaria drug given to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.The drug is mefloquine, known by the brand name Lariam, which has been given to tens of thousands of soldiers since the war on terrorism began. Some of those soldiers say it has provoked severe mental and physical problems including suicidal and violent behavior, psychosis, convulsions and balance disorders.

Last year the Food and Drug Administration began warning that problems might last "long after" someone stops taking it.

Fort Campbell tries to stop soldier suicides

Spc. Adam Kuligowski's problems began because he couldn't sleep.
Last year, the 21-year-old soldier was working six days a week, analyzing intelligence that the military gathered while he was serving in Afghanistan. He was gifted at his job and loved being a part of the 101st Airborne Division, just like his father and his great uncle.

But Adam was tired and often late for work. His eyes were glassy and he was falling asleep while on duty. His room was messy and his uniform was dirty.

His father, Mike Kuligowski, attributes his son's sleeplessness and depression to an anti-malarial medication called mefloquine that was found in his system. In rare cases, it can cause psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety, paranoia, depression, hallucination and psychotic behavior.

Army curbs prescriptions of anti-malaria drug Mefloquine
Army curbs prescriptions of anti-malaria drug
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Almost four decades after inventing a potent anti-malarial drug, the U.S. Army has pushed it to the back of its medicine cabinet.

The dramatic about-face follows years of complaints and concerns that mefloquine caused psychiatric and physical side effects even as it was used around the globe as a front-line defense against the mosquito-borne disease that kills about 800,000 people a year.

"Mefloquine is a zombie drug. It's dangerous, and it should have been killed off years ago," said Dr. Remington Nevin, an epidemiologist and Army major who has published research that he said showed the drug can be potentially toxic to the brain. He believes the drop in prescriptions is a tacit acknowledgment of the drug's serious problems.

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