PDFORRA has raised concerns about the use of Lariam in the past. The most recent was by way of correspondence in May 2013 with a request that an assessment of the use of an alternative anti-malaria drug Malaorne for the use of Permanent Defence Force personnel be carried out.
As the Deputy is aware when I advised in my reply to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 29110/13 and 28708/13, malaria is a serious disease that kills approximately 1 million people per year in sub-Saharan Africa alone. It is a serious threat to any military force operating in the area. The anti-malaria regime in place in the Defence Forces – including the use of Lariam – has worked. In the decade of deployment to sub-Saharan Africa by the Defence Forces, not a single member of the Defence Forces has died from malaria and there are only three documented cases of personnel getting malaria.
In relation to the use of Malarone, until September 2012, Malarone was only licensed for up to 28 days continuous use. Given that the usual deployment for the Defence Forces is 6 months, Malarone was not an option for the Defence Forces on overseas tours of duty to malarious areas where the duration of the tour exceeded the 28 day licensing limit for the drug. The 28 day limit was removed in September 2012. There is, however, limited evidence as to the safety and effectiveness of Malarone being used for longer periods and the position is currently being reviewed by the Defence Forces’ Medical Corps.
Over the years concerns have been raised concerning the use of Lariam. I have had all of these concerns investigated thoroughly and have obtained the advice of leading medical experts, who concur with the practices followed by the Defence Forces in prescribing Lariam.
I am satisfied that the anti- malaria regime in place in the Defence Forces, including the use of Lariam has worked.