DVA Must Take Closer Look Into Malaria Drug Side Effects

DVA Must Take Closer Look Into Malaria Drug Side Effects

RSL Queensland is calling on the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to fund research into possible links between mefloquine and chemically acquired brain injury in Defence personnel.

RSL Queensland President Stewart Cameron said anecdotal evidence from veterans who had been prescribed mefloquine during operational service indicated there might be previously unrecognised side effects that are causing significant problems in their lives.

“Veterans believe their exposure to mefloquine has caused a chemically acquired brain injury,” Mr Cameron said.

“This takes the form of a chronic illness characterised by a range of symptoms including insomnia, depression, anxiety, impaired cognition, abnormally vivid dreams or nightmares, dizziness or tinnitus.

“But without reliable scientific research to support their claims, veterans are left in medical limbo,” Mr Cameron said.

He said the recent decision by the Repatriation Medical Authority (RMA) not to recognise the link between mefloquine and chemically acquired brain injury should not mean investigation ceased entirely.

“In its rationale, the RMA recognised there was insufficient clinical evidence to establish a causal link between exposure to mefloquine and chemically acquired brain injury,” Mr Cameron said.

“However, this only highlights the fact that there is a significant gap in the scientific literature around the potential side effects of mefloquine.

“RSL Queensland strongly recommends the DVA step up and fill this gap.”

He said RSL Queensland had enlisted the help of the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation (GMRF) to review research being conducted into mefloquine and its potential side effects.

“GMRF confirmed that no controlled comparison studies into a causal link between mefloquine use and chemically acquired brain injury were currently being undertaken or planned anywhere in the world,” Mr Cameron said.

“If no research has been conducted or is currently being conducted, how can the DVA confidently deny the existence of an issue?” 

RSL Queensland has dedicated and specialist Veteran Support Officers (VSOs) throughout Queensland who can help current or ex-serving ADF personnel lodge a DVA claim if they have a diagnosed health condition they believe is due to mefloquine.

DVA currently recognises mefloquine as a factor in 14 conditions (not including chemically acquired brain injury) that can be found here.

Any Queensland based veterans or current service people seeking further support or advice from RSL Queensland on lodging a DVA claim can contact vs@rslqld.com.au
MEDIA CONTACT:            Anita Jaensch │ 0439 872 066 │ anita.jaensch@rslqld.org