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Claude Lalancette's Sitrep Oct 07, 2016

Post by Trooper on Fri 07 Oct 2016, 18:06

From Claude's Facebook Page

Claude Lalancette's Sitrep Oct 07, 2016

Sit/rep
I first want to thank ALL for supporting our cause. This couldn't have taken place at a better time.
I have been promised, in WRITING this time, time to testify in front of the veterans committee. The 25th of October 2016 will be the date.
I need to heal and get ready for this. I will be silent for awhile but please be reassured that progress is in the making.
ATTENTION!!!!!!
Any veteran in need of help, please call VAC. I promise you a different response.
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Veteran to meet with Veterans Affairs committee about mefloquine

Post by Trooper on Mon 24 Oct 2016, 16:51

Veteran to meet with Veterans Affairs committee about mefloquine

Published on: October 24, 2016 | Last Updated: October 24, 2016 8:53 AM CST



Dave Bona waited 20 years for a chance to tell Canadian MPs about the plight of soldiers like himself suffering for years from harmful side-effects of the anti-malaria drug mefloquine.

This week, Bona, who lives near Saskatoon, will travel to Ottawa and present his case to the standing committee on veterans affairs along with three medical experts and three other soldiers who suffer mefloquine side-effects, which include nightmares, paranoia, aggression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

Bona was surprised Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr finally opened the door to the mefloquine issue at the standing committee. For years, successive federal governments have refused to address the long-term side-effects among soldiers who took the controversial drug. About 15,677 took the drug between 2001 and 2012; more than a 1,000 others took it in the 1990s.

“I am going to draw attention to the hardest thing to talk about — the depression and suicidal thoughts that can come with mefloquine,” said Bona, a former Canadian Airborne soldier who first took the drug on the ill-fated 1992-93 Somalia mission and later in Rwanda.

Some soldiers say mefloquine side-effects played a role in the beating death of a Somali teenager by two Canadian soldiers on that mission. Soldiers’ parents have also raised questions around mefloquine’s role in the suicides of soldiers from the Van Doos regiment.

Bona fell ill with nausea and seizures after his first dose of mefloquine. For years, he has been plagued by depression, explosive anger and suicidal thoughts — symptoms that did not respond to years of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In 2013, the American military put tighter restrictions on use of the drug. That’s when the U.S Food and Drug Administration upgraded its warning to the highest level, after research showed some side-effects could be permanent.

The U.S. military reclassified mefloquine as a drug of last resort and banned it among special forces such as the green berets.

After an inquiry last year, the U.K. government restricted its use and set up a special contact point for soldiers concerned they are suffering long-term mefloquine side-effects.

Bona says Canada should get in step with those two allies.

He is also worried soldiers who may be sent to Africa for peacekeeping will be at risk if Canada does not designate it as a drug of last resort.

According to the Department of Defence, mefloquine use has dropped significantly in recent years, with just six per cent of Canadian soldiers heading to countries with malaria taking mefloquine in 2012.

As recently as Aug. 25, Bona received a letter from Hehr noting his department does not prescribe drugs and referred to Health Canada, which continues to classify mefloquine as “a first line anti-malarial drug.”

“A review of scientific literature has shown that there are no long term effects from taking mefloquine,” Hehr said in the August letter.

That statement is surprising and troubling to Dr. Remington Nevin, who will also testify at the standing committee this week.

Hehr’s department is relying on “out of date research” from Health Canada, which has not updated its warnings since 2011, says Nevin, a former U.S. military physician whose groundbreaking research shows the drug can cause long-term or even permanent adverse effects.

“We now know, for instance, you should to stop taking the drug as soon as you experience nightmares or vivid dreams as they are a sign of susceptibility to long-term problems. But Canadian soldiers won’t be getting that medical advice,” said Nevin, who testified last year at the U.K. inquiry into mefloquine.

Dr. Greg Passey, a former Canadian military psychiatrist, will also testify at the hearings — years after he tried to raise the issue at the 1994 Somalia inquiry. The Liberal government halted the inquiry just before the use of mefloquine was to be examined.

“We are aware mefloquine can cause suicide ideation,” Passey said in an interview.

“The difficulty is mefloquine toxicity symptoms overlap with PTSD and it is difficult to tease apart,”
he said.

The committee, which is looking into mental health in the armed forces, is scheduled to hear the mefloquine evidence Tuesday afternoon and Thursday.

— Sheila Pratt is a freelance journalist based in Edmonton

http://thestarphoenix.com/news/national/veteran-to-meet-with-veterans-affairs-committee-about-mefloquine-after-20-years

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Question Period on Mefloquine Oct 26, 2016

Post by Trooper on Wed 26 Oct 2016, 19:47

Question Period on Mefloquine Oct 26, 2016

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Re: Mefloquine / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Teentitan on Thu 27 Oct 2016, 10:13

Good answer....wait what was his answer? Oh yeah mandate letter.

Come on Kent I'll give a donation to the Liberals party of Canada to get a real answer to the question on mefloquine and what VAC is doing to help vets
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Canadian veterans say anti-malaria drug prescribed in Somalia ruined lives

Post by Trooper on Fri 28 Oct 2016, 05:56

Canadian veterans say anti-malaria drug prescribed in Somalia ruined lives
GLORIA GALLOWAY
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016 8:22PM EDT
Last updated Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016 8:25PM EDT

Veterans who took part in the Somalia mission of the 1990s, which ended after the murder of a local teenager, blame the anti-malarial drug mefloquine for psychological damage that may have caused the tragedy and say Ottawa should reach out to others who have been affected.

A House of Commons committee heard from veterans on Thursday who say their lives have been permanently altered, and in some cases destroyed, by the pills they were required to take as part of a clinical trial involving members of the Canadian Forces who were deployed on the Somalia mission.

All of the men urged the government to create an outreach program that would educate both current and former military personnel, as well as civilian consumers, about the drug’s potential side effects.

Claude Lalancette was one of paratroopers with the Canadian Airborne Regiment who was sent to Somalia.

“This is where I can retrace the route of my mental-health issues,” Mr. Lalancette told the MPs on the committee. “We were young and so well-trained for this mission. But the intensity of our aggression and psychoses led to the closure of Canada’s elite – the Canadian Airborne Regiment.”

The regiment was disbanded in 1995 after what was known as the Somalia Affair. Master Corporal Clayton Matchee and Private Kyle Brown were charged in the beating death of Shidane Arone, a 16-year-old Somali.

“Clayton Matchee and Kyle Brown, they are victims,” said Mr. Lalancette, who blamed mefloquine for their actions. Mr. Brown was convicted of manslaughter in the teenager’s death and served a third of his five-year sentence. Mr. Matchee suffered brain damage when he tried to hang himself and was found unfit to stand trial.

Mefloquine is also sold under the brand name Lariam. A spokeswoman for the Department of National Defence has said it was given to 15,677 Canadian soldiers between 2001 and 2012.

Mr. Lalancette said his own symptoms include depression, irritability, hyper-vigilance, sleep disorders and aggression. “My temper goes from zero to 1,000 in an instant,” he told the committee.

He said he has given up driving because he cannot control his road rage. The drug, he added, has cost him his relationship with his children, his military job, pushed him into a life of poverty and prompted him to contemplate suicide.

All of the men talked about being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, which they say has similar symptoms of mefloquine toxicity.

But the treatments for PTSD do not work for those whose brains have been damaged by the drug, said John Dowe, who was also in Somalia and now works with the International Mefloquine Veterans’ Alliance.

“In the absence of national action to identify and alarm soldiers and consumers of the latest knowledge about mefloquine,” Mr. Dowe said, “we are left to remember psychosis, murder, violence and suicide.”

In 1999, the federal Auditor-General said the drug had been improperly prescribed during the Somalia mission. “National Defence did not keep essential records or follow required procedures required to fulfill its obligations as a participant in clinical study,” that report said.

Different drugs that have fewer side effects than mefloquine are now more commonly prescribed to soldiers. But Canadian troops are still given mefloquine far more often that it is prescribed for troops in the United States.

The British military allows it only as a last resort after a report earlier this year cited the risk of severe psychological side effects.

Dave Bona of Saskatchewan, a former member of the Canadian Airborne, said he took the drug during the Somalia mission and again in Rwanda a couple years later, and the psychological effects have been profound.

Mr. Bona told the committee that he has tried to track down the 28 men who deployed in his platoon to Somalia and has been able to account for 10 of them. “Two have committed suicide, six have attempted it and there’s only one soldier that is actually doing well,” Mr. Bona said, “and that’s the one guy that I know did not take the drug.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canadian-veterans-say-anti-malaria-drug-prescribed-in-somalia-ruined-lives/article32561381/
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CTV's Power Play: The effects of mefloquine

Post by Trooper on Sat 29 Oct 2016, 10:15

CTV's Power Play: The effects of mefloquine

Oct 28, 2016

Canadian veteran Dave Bona speaks about the symptoms he has experienced after taking the anti-malaria drug mefloquine while he was deployed.

Click on the link below to view

http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=982939
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Re: Mefloquine / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Trooper on Sat 29 Oct 2016, 15:53

VAC Veterans Accountability Commission
October 26 at 7:16pm
Our first vlog with Faces of Mefloquine with veteran Brandon Kett. Please share this post for awareness let us try to find all those that have been effected by this drug.

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Anti-malaria drug with horrific side effects tested on Canadian soldiers

Post by Trooper on Mon 31 Oct 2016, 19:07

Anti-malaria drug with horrific side effects tested on Canadian soldiers

Nestor Arellano Oct 28 2016

Nightmares, delusional paranoia, aggression and thoughts of self-harm. These are some of the severe neurological symptoms experienced by a retired medical assistant in the Canadian Armed Forces after being “ordered” to take an anti-malaria drug while he was stationed in Somalia.

Hervey Blois told the House of Commons standing committee on veterans affairs on Thursday that he was part of a 900-strong Canadian Airborne regiment battle group in Somalia in 1993 when he first started taking the drug mefloquine under orders. The committee heard from other veterans how their lives were altered and in some cases destroyed by the drug which was administered to them as part of a clinical trial.

“This was months prior to the drug’s formal approval as a licensed medication by Health Canada,” he said in a statement. “…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 develop.”

Mefloquine was developed by the United States Army in the 1970s and saw use in the mid-1980s. It is manufactured and sold by Hoffman-La Roche under the name Lariam. A generic version of the drug is called Apo-Mefloquine which is produced by Apotex in Canada.

It’s known serious side effects included potentially long-term mental health problems such as depression, hallucinations, and anxiety and neurological side effects such as poor balance, seizures, and ringing in the ears. It is therefore not recommended in people with a history of mental health problems or epilepsy. Common side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and a rash.

The drug’s association with psychiatric and physical side effects prompted the U.S. military to stop its general use. A United Kingdom parliamentary defence committee also recommended that the British military only use Mefloquine as a “drug of last resort.”

Back in 1993, Blois said, he and a number of his unit members were ordered to take the drug as part of an experimental study. Had he been informed of the symptom, Blois said, he would have stopped using the drug. Instead, Blois he continued using the mefloquine for several weeks.

“Since my return, I have developed a number of severe psychiatric symptoms, including profound anxiety, aggression, delusional paranoia, and frequent thoughts of self-harm,” Blois said in his statement. “In 1998, during a delusional episode, I entered into a period of mental breakdown, which caused my admission to the psychiatric ward of the Royal Alexandria Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta.”

Following his medical release from the armed forces in 2001, Blois was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Treatments for PTSD, however, do not work in case of brain damage due to Mefloquine, according to a worker for the International Mefloquine Veterans’ Alliance.

Another soldier from Blois’ regiment, paratrooper Claude Lalancette, said he can trace his mental health issues to the drug.

“This is where I can retrace the route of my mental-health issues,” Lalancette was quoted as saying in a Globe and Mail report. “We were young and so well-trained for this mission. But the intensity of our aggression and psychoses led to the closure of Canada’s elite – the Canadian Airborne Regiment.”

The regiment was disbanded in 1995 due to what has been known as the Somalia Affair which revolved around members of the regiment Master Corporal Clayton Matchee and Private Kyle Brown being charged in the beating death of Shidane Arone, a 16-year-old Somali.

Lalancette blamed mefloquine for Matchee and Brown’s actions.

Blois said the onus falls on the federal government to acknowledge the harm done, investigate, and address the problems caused by the testing of the drugs on soldiers.

http://www.vanguardcanada.com/2016/10/28/anti-malaria-drug-horrific-side-effects-tested-canadian-soldiers/
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Probe malaria drug’s psychotic effect on troops, Canadian veterans urge

Post by Trooper on Mon 14 Nov 2016, 07:03

Probe malaria drug’s psychotic effect on troops, Canadian veterans urge

GLORIA GALLOWAY
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Nov. 14, 2016 5:00AM EST
Last updated Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016 9:30PM EST

Former members of the Canadian Armed Forces want the federal government to reassess the effects of mefloquine on troops who took part in the ill-fated Somalia mission in the 1990s now that Health Canada has agreed that the drug, which was forced upon those soldiers, can cause serious psychological impairment and permanent brain damage.

An inquiry, they say, is needed to determine what role the drug might have played in the behaviour of Canadian soldiers who murdered a Somali teenager, an act that effectively ended the mission.

Health Canada’s warning comes after years of denial by Ottawa that mefloquine poses any long-term detrimental effect – a denial that is still being echoed at Veterans Affairs and by the Defence Department even as some of the veterans who took the drug say their lives have been ruined by it.

Mefloquine continues to be offered as a preventive medication to Canadian troops who are sent to countries where malaria is prevalent, despite the fact that Health Canada quietly acknowledged in August that the drug can cause irreparable harm.

A new, detailed description of the drug’s possible effects issued by AA Pharma, mefloquine’s sponsor, and accepted by Health Canada on Aug. 4, says: “In a small number of patients it has been reported that dizziness or vertigo and loss of balance may continue for months or years after discontinuation of mefloquine and, in some cases, vestibular damage may be permanent.”

The description says mefloquine use can lead to anxiety, paranoia and depression as well as hallucinations and psychotic behaviour – the same psychiatric symptoms reported by some of the soldiers who participated in the Somalia mission in the early 1990s, about 900 of whom were required to take the drug as part of a poorly monitored clinical trial.

The update came three years after the United States Food and Drug Administration issued similar warnings.

John Dowe, a Somalia vet and a member of the International Mefloquine Veterans Alliance, a network of veterans, families and friends affected by mefloquine, said the Health Canada revision was announced with little fanfare. “It kind of went under the radar,” he told The Globe and Mail.

In addition to an inquiry, Mr. Dowe said, “We also want outreach, a call-out, a registry, for all those who took mefloquine by Health Canada, DND and Veterans Affairs so that people can be brought back in to determine their present condition; do they have mefloquine intoxication? And we want research, research, research so we can develop diagnoses and proper treatment.”

During the Somalia mission, Master Corporal Clayton Matchee and Private Kyle Brown were charged in the beating death of Shidane Arone, a 16-year-old Somali. A previous inquiry into what became known as the Somalia Affair was cut short in 1997 before it had time to fully examine whether mefloquine was responsible for the distorted state of mind of the soldiers involved in that crime.

The troops who were deployed to Somalia were required to take mefloquine even though it had yet to be licensed for use in Canada. The government was upbraided in a 1999 Auditor-General’s report for not obtaining the consent of the soldiers and for not monitoring the drug’s efficacy and the side-effects. The Defence Department responded to that audit by saying “the health and safety of Canadian Forces personnel were not compromised.”

But some of Somalia veterans, and others who took the drug in postings such as Rwanda and Afghanistan, say they have not been the same since.

Several of them recently appeared before the Commons Veterans Affairs committee to say they have suffered for years from depression, irritability, hyper-vigilance, sleep disorders and aggression. Dave Bona, a former member of the now disbanded Canadian Airborne Regiment involved in the Somalia mission, told the committee he tracked down 10 of the 28 men in his platoon and found that two have died by suicide, six have attempted it, and two others have suffered psychological issues.

But, three weeks after Health Canada posted the update indicating that the drug could cause permanent injuries, Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr wrote to Mr. Bona saying: “A review of the scientific literature has shown that there are no long-term effects from taking mefloquine.”

It is unknown whether anyone at the Veterans Affairs department was told by Health Canada about the revision to the mefloquine labelling. A spokesman for the minister said Friday that “the minister’s office would not have been made aware of the update at Health Canada as Veterans Affairs wouldn’t have been initially advised since the department doesn’t prescribe drugs.”

The Department of National Defence is also apparently unaware of the new warnings. Brigadier-General Hugh MacKay, the commander of the Canadian Forces Health Services Group, told the same Commons committee two weeks ago that mefloquine currently comprises about five per cent of all anti-malarial medications prescribed to Canadians military personnel.

Although the military is aware of the “potential short-term side effects of mefloquine,” and of “the assertions of some regarding their theories that mefloquine might cause long-standing neurological damage and mental-health issues,” said Brig-Gen. MacKay, “our assessment of their assertions at this time is that they are not sufficiently supported through direct scientific evidence for us to remove mefloquine as an option.”

Brandon Kett was given mefloquine when he was sent to Afghanistan in 2007. Mr. Kett had asked to take another anti-malarial drug but, he told The Globe, mefloquine was what was issued at the remote base where he was stationed. Today, he said, he suffers from dizziness, tinnitus, depression, anxiety and paranoia.

Mr. Kett was diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress disorder, many of the symptoms of which mimic those associated with mefloquine toxicity. But when he suggested to DND medical staff that he might have mefloquine poisoning, he said, “they basically ignored me and just continued on with their PTSD treatment because they aren’t allowed to validate the injury to us. So they have no treatment options.”

Doctors say the counselling treatments that work for people with PTSD can actually exacerbate the problems of someone who has brain damage as a result of taking mefloquine because, when the treatment proves ineffective, it just increases the stress and despair.

Remington Nevin, a doctor and researcher at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland who has studied the effects of mefloquine for nearly a decade, told The Globe and Mail that “it’s quite remarkable” that Health Canada authorized the new product description without any significant public notification.

Dr. Nevin notes that the new description says use of the drug should be discontinued at the onset of any neuropsychiatric symptoms. Many soldiers who took part in the Somalia mission reported such symptoms, including abnormal and alarming dreams, but no one told them to stop taking the pills.

While the Somalia inquiry “focused mainly on the perceived failings of junior soldiers and mid to senior leaders,” said Dr. Nevin, “really the worst offence was this inexcusable decision by the highest levels of military leadership to condone a frankly illegal use of an experimental medication without any oversight and really in blatant violation of medical and ethical norms.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/reassess-malaria-drugs-psychotic-effect-on-troops-canadian-veterans-urge/article32835059/
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Veterans urge second look at soldier’s role in torture death of Somali teen in light of malaria drug’s side effects

Post by Trooper on Mon 14 Nov 2016, 18:00

Veterans urge second look at soldier’s role in torture death of Somali teen in light of malaria drug’s side effects

Sheila Pratt, Postmedia News | November 14, 2016 2:56 PM ET


Clayton Matchee holds a wounded Shidane Arone at gunpoint. He later died of his injuries.

SASKATOON — Former Canadian Airborne soldier Clayton Matchee lives in a North Battleford, Sask., home afflicted with brain damage from a suicide attempt — a desperate act after he was charged in the murder of a Somali teenager.

That was more than 20 years ago, during Canada’s ill-fated Somali mission. Since then, Matchee’s name has carried the shame of that episode of Canadian military history.

But there’s a move afoot to change that view. Some of his fellow soldiers and a prominent U.S. medical expert now believe Matchee was experiencing severe psychological side effects of the controversial antimalarial drug mefloquine when he was involved in the beating death of Somali Shidane Arone in 1993.

Those veterans urged federal MPs on the parliamentary committee on veterans affairs to consider re-examining the incident in light of new research on the drug’s harmful side effects.

Former Airborne soldiers like Claude Lalancette previously blamed Matchee for the beating death that helped lead to the disbanding of the Airborne regiment.

Lalancette changed his mind after learning of new research into the side effects of mefloquine, which include heightened aggression, paranoia, anxiety and vivid dreams.

“I feel shame because I put blame on Clayton Matchee and (Edmonton soldier) Kyle Brown,” Lalancette told the veterans affairs committee. (Brown spent four years in jail for his role in the beating death.)

“We should reach out to the victims of this pill and the first two would be Kyle Brown and the Matchee family,” Lalancette said.

In 1992-93, the 900 Canadian Airborne soldiers were among the very first Canadians to take mefloquine as part of a clinical drug trial run by the Canadian army. The side effects were not well understood or explained to soldiers.
Some of his fellow soldiers and a prominent U.S. medical expert now believe Clayton Matchee, shown here at a 2004 hearing in Saskatoon, was experiencing severe psychological side effects of the controversial antimalarial drug mefloquine when he was involved in the beating death of Shidane Arone in 1993.

That’s why the Matchee case should be reopened, said Dr. Remington Nevin, the leading U.S. expert on mefloquine’s neuropsychiatric side effects.

“I feel confident I can render an opinion as to whether his behaviour during that time may have been in some way affected by the drug,” Nevin told the MPs on the committee.

Given the new research into the drug, “many of the points of confusion that dominated discussion then no longer apply,” he said.

“We could come to a more solid mutual conclusion about the events of that day and the role of the drug in his particular case,” Nevin told the committee.

Leon Matchee, father of Clayton Matchee, reacted cautiously to the suggestion that his son’s case should be reopened. After so many years, it is difficult to hear about those terrible events again, he said in a phone call from his home in Meadow Lake, Sask.

John Dowe was one of the few Canadian Airborne soldiers to witness the beating of the Somali teen, who had stolen supplies from the Canadian Forces’ compound. He’s also convinced Matchee was hallucinating at the time and that his heightened aggression was a result of the drug’s side effects.

He described Matchee striking the bunker walls and the prisoner Arone with a wooden baton, calling out that he was killing camel spiders when clearly there were no spiders in the bunker.

“Him beating spiders that were not there — he was hallucinogenic,” Dowe said.

The 1996 Somalia Inquiry into those fateful events was shut down just a few days before evidence on mefloquine was to be heard, former Canadian army psychiatrist Greg Passey told the committee.

The inquiry commission’s final report said it was “not able to explore fully the impact of mefloquine.” The committee said it could only report some “general conclusions.”

“If mefloquine did in fact cause or contribute to some of the misbehaviour that is the subject of this inquiry, CF personal who were influenced by the drug might be partly or totally excused for their behaviour. However we were not able to reach a final conclusion on the issue,” the report said.

http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/veterans-urge-another-look-at-clayton-matchee-case-in-light-of-malaria-drugs-side-effects
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Sajjan puts onus on troops while defending use of harmful malaria drug

Post by Trooper on Tue 15 Nov 2016, 05:33

Sajjan puts onus on troops while defending use of harmful malaria drug

GLORIA GALLOWAY
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Nov. 14, 2016 8:53PM EST
Last updated Monday, Nov. 14, 2016 9:35PM EST

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is defending his department’s continued prescription of an anti-malarial drug that Health Canada now agrees can cause permanent brain damage, saying troops make their own informed decisions about whether to take it.

Mr. Sajjan told reporters on Monday that the military chooses from an “evidence-based perspective” to allow soldiers to use mefloquine, the side-effects of which some have blamed for the violence in the ill-fated Somalia mission of the early 1990s.

“We do need to protect our troops when they do go into environments against malaria, that it’s a very dangerous disease to be able to get and we want to make sure that we prevent that,” Mr. Sajjan said. “At the same time, we want to make sure that we give our troops the right information so they can make an informed decision, so that they can protect themselves appropriately.”

Other countries, including the United States, have recognized for years that mefloquine can can cause permanent brain damage.

But it was not until early August that Health Canada quietly adopted a new advisory for doctors, pharmacists and patients that says the drug can cause adverse neuropsychiatric reactions “that have been reported to continue many years after mefloquine has been stopped.”

Even after that warning was issued, Veterans Affairs and Defence officials who may not have been aware of it were reassuring former soldiers that mefloquine poses no long-term danger.

The symptoms reported by some users – anxiety, paranoia, depression, hallucinations and psychotic behaviour – are similar to those experienced by troops deployed to Somalia, where Canadian soldiers beat to death a 16-year-old Somali. About 900 military members who participated in that mission were forced to take the mefloquine as part of a poorly monitored clinical trial.

Some of those veterans want an inquiry to determine what role the drug might have played in the violence. They also want the government to contact anyone who was prescribed mefloquine to determine if they have suffered long-term consequences. And they want more research to develop better diagnosis and treatment.

The Royal Canadian Legion strongly concurs with the recommendation for more study.

“Our sailors, soldiers and airmen and women deserve to know the side effects and to receive the proper diagnosis so that they can receive the proper care as well as assisting them to link their condition for disability benefits entitlements,” David Flannigan, the Legion’s dominion president, said in a letter earlier this month to Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr and Mr. Sajjan. “We owe our service personnel that much.”

The drug accounts for about 5 per cent of all anti-malarial medications prescribed by the military – but it is given to Canadian armed forces members five times as often as to their U.S. counterparts. Although its use has declined steeply in the past decade, it was given to 15,677 Canadian soldiers between January, 2001, and March, 2012.

The Veterans Affairs department says it does not have contact information for all 700,000 Canadian veterans – just the 200,000 for whom it is providing services – so it would be impossible for it to conduct the outreach that is being requested.

The Department of National Defence does have that sort of information and could contact soldiers and former soldiers who have taken mefloquine. But, government officials said on Monday DND does not have a pharmaceutical research mandate.

Both the Conservatives and the New Democrats want the government to hold an inquiry, find veterans and soldiers who may be affected, and conduct more research.

“These people need help,” said Cathay Wagantall, the Conservative deputy critic for veterans affairs. “We need this restorative action taken on their behalf and that is something the government can do – do the inquiry, find out how many people are out there, get them the right information so they can be diagnosed properly and treated properly.”

Irene Mathyssen, the NDP critic, said she has not been satisfied with the answers provided by defence officials who have appeared before the Commons Veterans Affairs committee earlier this fall. “So, absolutely, an inquiry,” Ms. Mathyssen said. “We need to support and help those people who have experienced negative events and to treat the people still suffering. Do that research. We owe it to them.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/sajjan-puts-onus-on-troops-while-defending-use-of-harmful-malaria-drug/article32846896/
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Veterans want inquiry into malaria drug’s effects on them

Post by Trooper on Tue 15 Nov 2016, 15:50


It’s done less often, but Canadian Forces still prescribe mefloquin to soldiers to prevent malaria in spite of possible side-effects like hallucination and psychosis.

Veterans want inquiry into malaria drug’s effects on them

By Lynn Desjardins
Tuesday 15 November, 2016

Former soldiers want the Canadian government to hold an inquiry into the effects of mefloquine, a malaria-prevention drug they were obliged to take during the disastrous Somalia mission in the 1990s. Troops were sent on a peace-keeping mission to deal with an escalating civil war there driven by warlords.

In 1993, Canadian soldiers shot two civilians, killing one and injuring the other. Shortly after, 16-year-old Somalian Shidane Arone was tortured and killed. Gruesome photos were taken and made public, to the shock and horror of Canadians.


Mefloquine, also called Lariam, was prescribed to Canadian soldiers serving in Somalia. They were obliged to take it, although some secretly stopped after suffering bizarre side effects.

Did mefloquine play a role in the Somalia scandal?

Now, the request for an inquiry would be to find out what role mefloquine (also called Lariam) might have played in these events.

A new description by the drug maker which was accepted by Canada’s health department in early August says that some patients have reported dizziness, vertigo, or loss of balance. But it also says use of the drug can lead to depression, paranoia, anxiety, hallucinations and psychotic behaviour. Some countries including the U.S. recognize that mefloquine can cause permanent brain damage, reports the Globe and Mail.

The psychological effects are the same kinds of symptoms that were reported by some of the soldiers who were sent to Somalia and took the drug as part of a poorly-run clinical trial.


Dave Bona took mefloquine while he served in Somalia and described what he felt during that time and after: “Anger, random periods of uncontrollable anger, so angry I could not think straight.

More people suffer side-effects than was thought

John Dowe, co-founder of the International Mefloquine Veterans Alliance, says this and new research about mefloquine have veterans worried.

“Canadian soldiers are in a great amount of confusion and worry today over recent developments on the international stage with mefloquine. As new science has come forward, we have discovered a great many people are more affected with this drug than previously thought,” he says. “There are a lot of soldiers who had taken the drug and are seeking answers.”

Veterans may be getting wrong treatment

Dowe says some of the symptoms mimic those of post-traumatic stress disorder but treatment for that would be wrong if veterans were misdiagnosed and were in fact suffering from drug toxicity.

Canadian Forces still prescribe mefloquine

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan was asked about the matter by reporters on November 14, 2016. The Globe and Mail reports he said that troops are given the right information so they can made an informed decision about mefloquine.

he newspaper reports that the drug accounts for about five per cent of the anti-malaria drugs that are prescribed by the Canadian Forces, but that mefloquine is given out five times as often as it is to U.S. soldiers. The Globe adds that it was given to 15,677 Canadian soldiers between January, 2001 and March 2012.

http://www.rcinet.ca/en/2016/11/15/veterans-want-inquiry-into-malaria-drugs-effects-on-them/
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Canadian military to reassess use of controversial anti-malaria drug

Post by Trooper on Wed 16 Nov 2016, 05:47

Canadian military to reassess use of controversial anti-malaria drug

GLORIA GALLOWAY
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 8:31PM EST
Last updated Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 9:18PM EST

The head of the Canadian Armed Forces says the military is reassessing the use of an anti-malarial drug that can cause serious psychiatric side-effects now that Health Canada agrees the brain damage associated with mefloquine can be permanent.

Whether to continue prescribing the preventive medication to Canadian troops sent to tropical countries has become an urgent matter as Canada prepares for a three-year peacekeeping commitment in Africa. Some veterans say mefloquine ruined their lives and blame it for violence on the 1992 mission to Somalia, where Canadian troops killed a 16-year-old Somali.

Countries including the United States recognized years ago that mefloquine can cause permanent brain damage. In August, Health Canada quietly adopted an advisory for doctors, pharmacists and patients that the drug can cause adverse neuropsychiatric reactions “that have been reported to continue many years after mefloquine has been stopped.”

“It is certainly an emerging issue,” General Jonathan Vance, the Chief of Defence Staff, told The Globe and Mail on Tuesday. The controversy over mefloquine is not new, he said, but “it goes without saying that, if Health Canada is coming out with a statement like that, then we ought to be concerned. So it certainly has my full attention.”

Gen. Vance said Brigadier-General Hugh MacKay, the Surgeon General of the Canadian Armed Forces, is looking into the situation “even as we speak,” and the military will use a scientific approach as it decides what to do next.

Later on Tuesday, when asked by The Globe and Mail for comment, Brig.-Gen. MacKay would say only that “we’re going to look at all the evidence about mefloquine and make a decision based on that.” He said his study has no timeline.

Although other anti-malarial drugs are now the more common choice of Canadian soldiers, mefloquine is still prescribed five times as often to Canadian military personnel as it is to their U.S. counterparts.

Symptoms reported by users include anxiety, paranoia, depression, hallucinations, psychotic behaviour and, in rare cases, thoughts of suicide. Studies suggest only a few mefloquine users have long-term problems, but the rate of significant, permanent damage is unknown.

Gen. Vance said that “if anybody’s harmed or injured as a result of their military services, we have procedures for [dealing with] that.”

But some of the soldiers who were forced to take mefloquine in Somalia, Rwanda and Afghanistan say it has been impossible to get proper a diagnosis because their symptoms closely resemble post-traumatic stress disorder. Doctors say treatments for PTSD can be detrimental to those with mefloquine toxicity.

Some veterans are calling for an inquiry to determine what role the drug might have played in Somalia, where 900 military members were required to take it in a poorly monitored clinical trial. They also want the government to contact anyone who was prescribed mefloquine to determine if they have suffered long-term consequences. And they want more research to develop better diagnosis and treatment.

On Monday, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said troops now make their own informed choice about whether to take mefloquine or an alternative when they are deployed to a country where malaria is prevalent. But that was not always the case.

Francis Harrison, who was a military police corporal on the Canadian mission to Rwanda in 1994, says he was ordered to take mefloquine. “I have lived a life of psychological roller coaster since,” he said, “and this needs to be investigated deeper.”

Mr. Harrison said his superiors told him that, while most of the troops would take their pills on Tuesdays and Thursdays, he would take his on Saturdays so he would be capable of keeping the peace when the others were experiencing the side-effects.

“We used to call them Wacko Tuesday and Psycho Thursday,” Mr. Harrison said. “The dreams and the nightmares, just the way people reacted, it made me really question what the hell was going on. But no one ever said anything.”

The U.S. military considers mefloquine the drug of last choice, and the U.S. special forces have banned it.

Robert Menendez, a Democratic senator from New Jersey, wrote to his government’s Defence and Veterans Affairs departments two weeks ago to say that “given the widespread use of mefloquine and the potentially long-lasting symptoms among those administered the drug, it is important for both the Department of Defence and the Department of Veterans Affairs to develop a plan to deal with what could become a significant health crisis among the veterans population.”

In Australia, concern is intense from media and the public over the damage that may have been done to soldiers who took mefloquine in a clinical trial.

And in Britain, after a lengthy public inquiry, more than 500 former British military staff who were prescribed mefloquine are considering whether to launch a lawsuit alleging the Ministry of Defence failed to consider the dangers of the drug.

Drug regulators in Canada, Europe and the United States agree that mefloquine causes mental health symptoms that last decades after use, said Remington Nevin, a doctor at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland who has studied the drug’s effects for nearly a decade.

“The experience of Canadian veterans,” Dr. Nevin said, “makes this painfully obvious to all but those few officials who continue to manufacture doubt, seemingly in a misguided attempt to avoid liability and responsibility for a preventable problem that they mostly created for themselves.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canadian-military-to-reassess-use-of-controversial-malaria-drug/article32867941/
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Malaria drug’s effect on troops should be examined: Somalia inquiry head

Post by Trooper on Thu 17 Nov 2016, 06:21

Malaria drug’s effect on troops should be examined: Somalia inquiry head

GLORIA GALLOWAY
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016 5:00AM EST
Last updated Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016 5:15AM EST

The man who led an inquiry into the 1992 beating death of a Somali teenager at the hands of Canadian troops says he is frustrated that his commission’s work was cut short before it could explore what role a controversial anti-malarial drug might have played in the violence.

Gilles Létourneau, a retired judge of the Federal Court of Appeal, says it may be too difficult now to examine whether mefloquine was a major factor in the so-called Somalia Affair because most of the soldiers who were deployed to the African country have left the military. But Mr. Létourneau told The Globe and Mail in a telephone interview on Wednesday it would be worthwhile to take a hard public look at the dangers posed by the drug, which is still being offered to Canadian Force members.

“Surely, run a survey of existing use of mefloquine within the Armed Forces and see whether the problems that were raised 20 years ago are still there,” Mr. Létourneau said.

“We ran out of time,” he said of the inquiry, which gathered evidence for two years before being cut off by the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien before the 1997 election. “There were so many issues to be covered, and this one we had to leave aside in the hope that eventually medical progress would either sort out or solve these problems. But it hasn’t been followed up, from what I can gather.”

Health Canada agreed in August – three years after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration came to the same conclusion – with an assessment that said mefloquine can cause permanent brain damage. Symptoms reported by some users include anxiety, paranoia, depression, hallucinations, psychotic behaviour and, in rare cases, thoughts of suicide.

Some Canadian veterans say the drug ruined their lives. They are asking the government to contact members of the Armed Forces or veterans who were required to take it in places like Somalia, Rwanda and Afghanistan to determine if they suffered long-term consequences. They want more research to develop better diagnosis and treatment of the effects. And they are calling for an inquiry to determine what role mefloquine might have played in Somalia.

“No doubt about it, it should have been explored” during the Somalia Inquiry, Mr. Létourneau said, “because many soldiers complained to us when we toured … about the mefloquine and the side-effects and the nightmares. They called them the meflomares. There were a high number of persons reporting to us that it affected their behaviour and it scared them.”

Jonathan Vance, the Chief of Defence Staff, said this week that the mefloquine issue has his full attention in light of the Health Canada warning. He has assigned Brigadier-General Hugh MacKay, the Surgeon-General of the Canadian Armed Forces, to examine the its current use.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, meanwhile, says troops now make their own informed choice about whether to take mefloquine or an alternative.

But that was not always the case.

In Somalia, approximately 900 Canadian Forces members were forced to take the drug even though it had yet to be approved in Canada. Master Corporal Clayton Matchee and Private Kyle Brown were charged in the beating death during the mission of Shidane Arone, a 16-year-old Somali. Mr. Brown was convicted of manslaughter and served a third of a five-year sentence. Mr. Matchee suffered brain damage when he tried to hang himself and was found unfit to stand trial.

The Defence Department obtained the mefloquine that was administered in Somalia as part of a safety-monitoring study.

But the federal auditor-general found in 1999 that, contrary to the requirements for taking part in that study, the military did not obtain the informed consent of the troops, nor did it systematically monitor the efficacy or the adverse reactions. The military responded to the auditor’s criticisms by saying “cases of potentially lethal malaria were prevented and the health and safety of Canadian Forces personnel was not compromised.”

Many of the soldiers on the Somalia mission recall having bad dreams, and some say they or their comrades experienced the additional symptoms that are now associated with mefloquine toxicity.

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces who were sent to Rwanda in 1994 were also required to take mefloquine. Among them was Greg Passey, a psychiatrist who was part of a five-person mental-health team.

Over a matter of weeks, “two of the members became sort of isolative, aggressive, somewhat paranoid,” said Dr. Passey, who left the military and is an expert on post-traumatic stress syndrome. “At one point, we were having a team meeting to try to discuss what was going on … one of the members pulled out a knife beside me and he was playing with it in a fairly aggressive manner, so I was very uncomfortable with that.”

At the start of the Somalia inquiry, Dr. Passey wrote to Mr. Létourneau offering to testify about his observations in Rwanda. In spite of a Forces-wide edict to co-operate with the commission, he said his military bosses were furious that he volunteered to give evidence.

Then, “literally the week before I was to testify, the Liberal government shut the inquiry down,” Dr. Passey said, “so I was never able to address the mefloquine issue at all.”

One of the worst problems with mefloquine toxicity is that its symptoms mimic those of PTSD, and that can make it difficult to diagnose, he said. So “there’s a whole veteran population out there that may not have been identified properly as far as what’s causing their condition.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/malaria-drugs-effect-on-troops-should-be-examined-somalia-inquiry-head-says/article32881571/
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Top military physician skeptical about toxicity of malaria medication

Post by Trooper on Fri 18 Nov 2016, 11:05

Top military physician skeptical about toxicity of malaria medication

GLORIA GALLOWAY
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Nov. 18, 2016 5:00AM EST
Last updated Friday, Nov. 18, 2016 5:00AM EST

Canada’s military Surgeon-General is skeptical that psychiatric symptoms plaguing former soldiers who have taken mefloquine are related to use of the drug, and says the assertion that it can cause long-term brain damage is an unproven hypothesis except in the rarest of circumstances.

Brigadier-General Hugh MacKay’s comments come after Health Canada said side effects of the anti-malarial drug have been reported to last for years, and as some veterans are saying the drug left them with permanent psychiatric damage.

Dr. MacKay has asked health experts in the Defence department to look at the scientific literature on the medication and make recommendations regarding its use. He hopes the study will be completed by March. The work has taken on some urgency as Canada prepares to fulfill a three-year peacekeeping commitment in Africa.

The Surgeon-General told The Globe and Mail on Thursday that the term “mefloquine toxicity” was coined by a small number of experts who have not proved the drug causes long-standing harm except in very rare cases.

“The challenge is that the science they are using to support this hypothesis is not strong science. Until we have greater information and evidence to support this hypothesis, we risk making decisions that could be wrong decisions,” Dr. MacKay said. “And by making those decisions, we could be removing a viable anti-malarial medication from use in the world.”

Health Canada quietly adopted a new advisory for doctors, pharmacists and patients in August that says the drug can cause adverse neuropsychiatric reactions “that have been reported to continue many years after mefloquine has been stopped.”

The advisory warns that some users report symptoms including anxiety, paranoia, depression, hallucinations, psychotic behaviour and, in rare cases, thoughts of suicide.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cautions that neurological reactions to mefloquine “have been reported to be permanent in some cases.”

A 2015 examination of the effects of the drug on Australian troops says: “Mefloquine has been found to be a plausible cause of chronic central nervous system toxicity syndrome.” It adds that the side-effects can be mistaken for post-traumatic stress disorder.

And a study released this year by British MPs said that, while those who experience debilitating side effects from mefloquine are a minority, “we do not believe the risk and severity of these side effects are acceptable for our military personnel on operations overseas.”

Dr. MacKay pointed out that armed forces around the world still use mefloquine, and the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control approve it. Its long-term side effects, he said, are seen in just one in 10,000 to one in 14,000 users.

The Centers for Disease Control, however, warns that “mefloquine is not recommended as a primary option” for military deployments to countries where malaria is prevalent. And, while mefloquine accounts for only about 5 per cent of the anti-malarial prescriptions given to Canadian soldiers, it makes up just 1 per cent of the anti-malarials given to the U.S. military.

And Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, a psychiatrist who is a retired U.S. military colonel and an expert on PTSD in members of the U.S. armed forces, said Dr. MacKay’s numbers are outdated.

“What is true is that there is not good recent research on mefloquine,” Dr. Ritchie said. “But, having said that, there’s a lot of people who say that it has damaged them. The one in 10,000 to one in 14,000 figure is one that we were using back in the early 1990s. Now, most estimates are about 25 per cent to 50 per cent of people will have acute neuropsychiatric affects [such as bad dreams and hallucinations] and we really don’t know how many people will have long-term effects.”

During the Somalia peacekeeping mission of 1992, about 900 Canadian Forces members were forced to take mefloquine as part of a poorly monitored clinical trial. Many reported the types of symptoms mentioned in the Health Canada warning, and some blame the drug for the violence that erupted on the night a 16-year-old Somali was beaten to death by Canadian troops.

A group of veterans is calling for an inquiry into what role the medication might have played in Somalia and for the government to contact troops or veterans who were required to take mefloquine to determine if they suffered long-term consequences. And they want more research to develop better diagnosis and treatment of the effects.

Dr. MacKay said he does not believe the Defence Department has contact information for all veterans who took mefloquine. “If a veteran is feeling unwell after Somalia, after any of the missions,” he said, “we want them to come forward and tell somebody, because our job, Veterans Affairs’ job, is to look after those who have become injured …”

And, although the Defence Department finances research, he said there is not enough evidence around mefloquine toxicity to justify spending money.

Defence plans to go to the 40 to 50 military personnel who have been prescribed the drug in each of the past three years to determine what effects they experienced and if any symptoms have been long-lasting.

As for the allegations of mefloquine toxicity, “people are believing in something that gives them an answer that they would like to hear,” Dr. MacKay said. “That can get in the way of them being able to get care for post-traumatic stress disorder that we know is real because they believe they have something that some people have said may exist.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/top-military-physician-skeptical-about-toxicity-of-malaria-medication/article32920959/
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