Mefloquine – also issued under the name Lariam – is an anti-malarial drug issued to thousands of U.S. troops who served overseas. The drug was issued to troops who were deploying to countries such as Afghanistan, Djibouti, and other countries throughout Africa. Sometimes they were prescribed in the Middle East, in places like Iraq.
The FDA approved the use of mefloquine for treating and preventing malaria in 1989. It was regularly issued until 2009, when the US Army issued a policy listing it as a last-choice malaria medication. By then, there were countless stories of severe side effects from the drug. In 2013, the FDC placed a “black box” warning on the drug saying that it can cause ongoing or permanent neurological and psychiatric conditions, including dizziness, loss of balance, tinnitus, anxiety, depression, paranoia, and hallucinations even after discontinuing use.
Veterans issued the drug have reported symptoms that include vivid dreams, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and “brain fog.” Others reported vertigo, ringing in the ears, and loss of balance. These symptoms are sometimes diagnosed as PTSD. Current regulations allow Veterans to file for service-connection for mefloquine poisoning, but each case is decided on a case-by-case basis.