Government needs to heed UN warnings about anti-malaria drug Lariam – Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh
Sinn Féin Defence Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said the refusal of the government to provide a safer alternative to the anti-malaria drug Lariam is placing the health and wellbeing of Irish Defence personnel at risk.
The Dublin South Central TD was responding to comments made by the Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association (PDFORRA), who in advance of their annual conference in Cork today, were critical of the government for ignoring UN guidelines on the dangers of Lariam and the advice that an alternative drug should be administrated to soldiers serving in countries where there is the risk of malaria.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh continued:
“Last week I challenged the Defence Minister Paul Keogh to withdraw Lariam in light of the serious side effects associated with the drug which can cause anxiety, depression, paranoia and suicidal behaviour. It is an issue I have been raising since 2008 yet my concerns have been dismissed by successive governments.
“Despite the UN’s advice that an alternative to Lariam should be made available for defence force personnel the government insists the drug is safe. The attitude of the Irish government contrasts with many other countries, including the United States, who have banned its use for military personnel.
“The fact also that Lariam has recently been withdrawn from sale to the general public in Ireland, and that there are 38 court cases pending against the state by Irish Defence Personnel who have been proscribed the drug, should alert the Minister that a safer anti-malaria drug must be made available for non-commissioned soldiers in the Irish army.
“On the back of today’s comments by PDFORRA, the Minister needs to now act on the advice of the UN and find an alternative anti-malaria drug for our defence personnel. His failure to do so to date, means that the mental and physical health of our soldiers is being severely compromised.”