Back in October, CTV’s W5 aired an intriguing item about mefloquine, the anti-malaria drug our soldiers took in Somalia – and still take in malaria-prone areas – which has side-effects that have caused the drug to be re-examined in other parts of the world.
Many believe mefloquine may have been responsible for some of the bizarre behavior of our troops in Somalia, since the drug was still in experimental stages in 1992 and not legally sold in Canada. W5 discovered that when the now-disbanded Airborne Regiment was sent to Somalia, Health Canada sanctioned the use of mefloquine (under the brand name Lariam, manufactured by Hoffman-La Roche) only on condition it was a controlled study with soldiers monitored and effects recorded.
None of this was done. As we now know, side-effects can lead to severe psycho-neurological problems. Dr. Michelle Brill-Edwards, a Health Canada drug regulator, quit in protest of possible dangerous psychiatric reactions – full-blown psychoses in cases, as well as hallucinations, nausea, nightmares, paranoia and suicidal impulses.