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Drug banned in US given to British soldiers on Ebola duty in in West Africa

Drug banned in US given to British soldiers on Ebola duty in in West Africa

An anti-malarial drug with links to psychosis and hallucinations is being prescribed for service personnel currently deployed in Sierra Leone.

The Independent reports: British troops sent to help combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa are at increased risk of becoming psychotic or suicidal due to the Ministry of Defence’s refusal to stop using mefloquine, the controversial anti-malarial drug.

Lariam (its brand name) is among the anti-malarials being given to the 800 service personnel currently deployed to Sierra Leone on Operation Gritrock.

Fears over the risks of psychosis and suicide prompted the US military to declare it a “drug of last resort” in April 2013, and the US Special Forces Command banned its use more than a year ago. Despite this British soldiers are still being given the drug.

The MoD admitted it continued to prescribe mefloquine as “part of a range of malaria prevention treatments”. Officials acknowledge the drug has the potential to cause “side-effects and adverse reactions” and stress the “exact choice of drug” is dependent on factors such as where people are being sent, the health of the individual and their past history.