The increase in expenditure on Lariam in 2018 and 2019 is explained by a cost-per-tablet increase of €1.75, and is not related to any change in the manner or frequency of its use. While the headline percentage price increase appears high, this translates into a modest increase in total expenditure on Lariam in 2018 of €1,399 over the 2017 figure. Prior to 2017, Lariam was purchased by the Defence Forces under a four-year framework agreement between the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association, IPHA, and the HSE. As the product is no longer covered by the terms of the IPHA-HSE framework agreement, however, there has been a resulting knock-on effect on cost. This accounts for the increased spend on Lariam in 2018 and to date in 2019.
As I have outlined to the House on many occasions, the use of anti-malarial drugs is a medical matter that should be decided by qualified medical professionals. In the Defence Forces, these are matters for highly qualified medical officers, having regard to the specific circumstances of the mission and the individual member of the organisation. The Deputy will be aware that ongoing litigation regarding this matter is being handled by the State Claims Agency, SCA. It has advised that it has received 225 claims alleging personal injury as a result of the consumption of Lariam by current and former members of the Defence Forces.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
He will appreciate, therefore, that it would be inappropriate for me to comment further. I assure the House that the health and welfare of the men and women of the Defence Forces is a high priority for me, my Department and the Defence Forces.