Base Killings Linked To Drug?
N.C. , Aug. 22, 2002
Pentagon is considering sending a medical team
to see whether there are any links between a
series of domestic killings at Fort Bragg and
an anti-malaria drug taken by soldiers.
The Army's preferred anti-malaria drug, Lariam,
carries rare reported side effects including
agitation, depression and aggression. The
epidemiological team could be sent to Fort
Bragg in the next few weeks, Army spokeswoman
Elaine Kanellis said Wednesday.
"There's no reason to believe right now
that Larium affected the behavior of the
individuals," Kanellis stressed, adding
that the team would also probe any other
behavioral and physical problems that might be
The drug's manufacturer, Roche Laboratories,
acknowledges reports of suicide and suicidal
thoughts attributed to Lariam, also known as
mefloquine. But company spokesman Terence
Hurley said they are extremely rare,
"only a small percentage of the more than
25 million people that have successfully used
The World Health Organization puts the
incidence of serious neuropsychiatric effects
from the drug at 5 in 100,000. Out of millions
of travelers given mefloquine each year,
between 1 in 6,000 to 1 in about 10,000 will
experience some kind of serious adverse
reaction, the WHO says.
Four wives of soldiers at Fort Bragg were
killed in a six-week span this summer. Each
death is blamed on the husband. Three of the
four men were Special Operations soldiers who
had been deployed to Afghanistan, where the
risk of malaria is high. Army officials would
not say if the men had taken Lariam.
Two of the soldiers killed themselves after
killing their wives.
In a fifth domestic killing at the base, the
wife of an Army Special Operations officer was
charged in his shooting death last month.
Malaria is a serious, sometimes fatal, disease
caused by a parasite that infects humans
through mosquito bites. The WHO estimates that
perhaps as many as 500 million cases of
malaria occur each year and more than 1
million people die of the disease worldwide.
Lariam is the malaria remedy of choice for
soldiers because it is taken once a week
instead of daily.