Friday, August 16, 2002

Malaria Drug Suspected in Ft. Bragg Killings
The UPI reports:
Friends of the three Fort Bragg soldiers suspected of killing their wives this summer say the men exhibited unusual anger and incoherence after returning from Afghanistan where they were given an anti-malaria drug associated with aggression and mental problems.

One of the soldiers was "almost incoherent" and visibly shaking while describing marital problems to a neighbor. Another became unable to control his anger at his wife in public, startling those who knew him. A third puzzled his new neighbors with his strange behavior.

Soldiers at Fort Bragg said they are well aware of mental problems linked to the anti-malaria drug Lariam, which include aggression, depression, paranoia, hallucinations and suicidal thinking, even as official military spokesmen dismiss a connection between the drug and the events around Fayetteville this summer which have drawn national attention.


Spokesmen for the Army, which invented the drug and says it is safe, told UPI the Army will review scientific literature on Lariam, also called mefloquine, but believe it played no role in any of the deaths because there is evidence of domestic problems in each one.

Over the years, Lariam's label, written by manufacturer Hoffmann-La Roche and approved by the Food and Drug Administration, has included increasingly troublesome side effects, and warns about aggression, paranoia, psychosis, hallucinations and suicidal thinking. Some patients complain of severe side effects lasting years after they stopped taking the drug.


Family of soldiers said they have long known about problems with Lariam.

"I don't know why the Army would tell them that it's OK, when obviously it's doing things to people," said Sheila Harriman, the wife of Stanley Harriman, a U.S. Army Special Forces soldier who was killed during Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan. She also said her husband did contract malaria once, and that soldiers should take something to avoid suffering from the disease.

The Army first told UPI it had no plans to consider Lariam in its own review of the facts surrounding the deaths, but on Aug. 9th sent a statement saying that review would include a search of the medical literature about Lariam.

Army officials have also said Lariam probably did not play a role in the killings because the soldiers' marriages were in trouble. "I think you are heading down the wrong road. That is just my personal opinion," said Maj. Gary Kolb, spokesman for the Army's Special Operations Command.

Experts on domestic violence said this cluster of killings particularly puzzles them because so far there is no indication that any of the soldiers had a history of domestic violence. In 80 percent of cases an escalating cycle of violence precedes a killing.
More details by following the link. Or just Google Lariam for an eyeful.