Risky Malaria Drug: a Factor in Afghan Massacre?

US military orders emergency review of mefloquine use
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2012 1:35 PM CDT
In this Aug. 23, 2011, file photo provided by the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System, Sgt. Robert Bales takes part in exercises at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.   (AP Photo/DVIDS, Spc. Ryan Hallock, File)

(Newser) – In the wake of the shootings of 17 civilians in Afghanistan, the US military is scrambling to limit the use of an anti-malaria drug that can have serious side effects—including psychotic behavior. Mefloquine, also called Lariam, has already been implicated in a number of suicides and homicides. In 2009, the US Army specifically ordered that it not be given to soldiers who've suffered traumatic brain injuries—as accused US shooter Robert Bales did in 2010 in Iraq.

Officials won't say whether Bales was given the weekly pill, but on Tuesday—nine days after the shootings—a top-level health official at the Pentagon ordered an emergency review of the drug's use, in order to ensure troops are not being given mefloquine inappropriately. Questioned by the Huffington Post, officials would not comment on whether the urgent review is in response to the allegations against Bales. Click for more, including disturbing cases in which mefloquine has been a factor.

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