Aug 13 2013

Mefloquine and Psychiatric Side Effects

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7 responses so far

7 Responses to “Mefloquine and Psychiatric Side Effects”

  1. JustinWilsonon 13 Aug 2013 at 10:12 am

    I enjoy the show quite a bit, but I didn’t think twice about the pills in the episode. I thought it was simply filler. Your article was a very interesting read and it’s always fun to see a TV Show that doesn’t completely blow it and cause panic where none is needed.

  2. HHCon 14 Aug 2013 at 12:22 am

    Some of the psychiatric effects which have been attributed to Mefloquine, a military developed drug, may be attributed to soldiers or others not enjoying mandatory prescribed drugs for the out of the ordinary places they visit. These persons are scared to be traveling out of their comfort zones, going to places which have scary diseases, and violent situations. Some soldiers prefer the use of no vaccines, and just plain over or under-the-counter remedies for what ails them. Tobacco, alcohol, speed, methamphetamine, heroine, morphine, cocaine, marijuana, various inhalants. Some actually think electric shocks and beatings toughen their minds and bodies. Studying this drug for neurotoxic affects are important but these other, over looked. self-prescribed factors weigh strongly towards extreme self-damage.

  3. Babananion 15 Aug 2013 at 9:54 am

    Having lived in Africa since the mid 90′s, I can anecdotally report that Larium was widely believed to be a psychosis causing drug by large populations of aid workers, who (despite our claims) don’t face the levels of stress combat soldiers do. Recognizing the quality of this report, it does provide a different population reporting similar effects.

    That said, some aid workers would also tend to report very vivid dreams while on Larium. However, this was not indicated on the Larium drug information insert. It was on the Paludrine inserts, (another malaria drug) which we tended to call PaluDream. Paludrine was said to be less effective against malaria and was being phased out, so many people had not actually used it. However, we “old timers” did talk about it. The side effects of one drug began to be linked to another drug in the gossip rounds. Yes, we gossip about our health a lot. In any case, it is interesting to me to see how relatively common side effect of one drug got linked to another drug, Larium. It then acquired a strong reputation for mental effects, which the soldier population also reported. But perhaps that population was biased and the aid worker population also appeared to have bias.

    None of this proves anything but that sampling methodology can be tricky!

    Off topic, that “bomb detector” fraud that was sold to countries such as Kenya? Some of your listeners fully support your rage over that fraud, as we are “protected” by that quality product…

  4. Michael Bradyon 15 Aug 2013 at 10:30 am


    I know an anecdote is not data but while taking Lariam (mefloquine) on a trip to Africa in 1997 I experienced many of its negative side effects. It was still the default prophylaxis in those days. I will not take it again, even at the risk of acquiring malaria. Gratefully, these days there are effective treatments that do not present the same risks.

  5. norrisLon 15 Aug 2013 at 6:14 pm

    This article is an excellent example of the scientific method at work. The product did what it was meant to do, but also did what it was not meant to do. As the side effects were so severe, the product is now, at best, a drug of last resort. As a vet, I always hoped to avoid the drug of last resort.


  6. Vinayon 16 Aug 2013 at 2:42 am

    I just wanted to say that I took mefloquine for about 7 weeks during my trip to India last year. I was presented with a few different malaria medications and I chose mefloquine despite the warning about the neuropsychological side effects because I was advised that the risk was probably low, and that I only needed to take it once per week. The other choices didn’t have the neuro side effects, but they were more troublesome to take – some once per day, others twice per day. Instead of carrying only 7 pills, I would have had to worry about 50-100 pills.

    Thankfully, I had no adverse effects (except the taste…it’s terrible). Although, I was looking forward to vivid dreams.

  7. Bill Openthalton 16 Aug 2013 at 6:05 am

    All malaria medications have side effects. I grew up in Central Africa, close to the Congo river. Kids were given chloroquine (we called it “nivaquine”) and pyrimethamine (“daraprim”) on Sundays (it was more than half a century ago, and somehow I seem to remember we took daraprim on a daily basis, but I believe I’m mistaken). What I do remember is that we believed chloroquine to be the “bad guy”, based on its terrible metallic taste, but looking at the side effects of pyrimethamine, I cannot but wonder if the asthma I suffered from until my return from Africa was not caused by pyrimethamine.

    I wonder how many parents who gave their infants and young children this type of malaria prophylaxis for years during the fifties and sixties realised how dangerous prolonged exposure to these drugs was. At least, I never got malaria…

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