My name is Hervey Blois, retired Medical Assistant in the Royal Canadian Medical Services.
I share with you today my concerns around the lasting health effects of the use of the anti-malarial drug, melfoquine (Lariam), in the Canadian Forces (CF).
I started taking mefloquine under orders on January 2, 1993, while I was deployed to Somalia, as a member of the 900-strong Canadian Airborne Regiment Battle Group. This was months prior to the drug’s formal approval as a licensed medication by Health Canada. Essentially, I and a number of my unit members were ordered to take what was at the time, an experimental study medication.
Although I have since learned that the CF’s use of this study medication was intended in part to document the drug’s adverse effects — some of which were already then well known to physicians and scientists —I was never told what these known adverse effects were, nor was I ever told to discontinue the drug if any of these adverse effects developed. Incredibly, even though I was administered the drug as part of a formal scientific study, at no time were the adverse effects I experienced ever recorded or documented, or passed along to Health Canada to inform their later licensing of the drug.