RTE News are reporting today that the anti-malarial drug, Lariam (Mefloquine), has been withdrawn from sale in Ireland.
Side effects reported with Lariam include, but are not limited to, aggression, paranoia, suicidal thinking, completed suicide.
Lariam is no stranger to controversy and a number of pending legal actions in Ireland is, according to manufacturer Roche, not the reason why it has been withdrawn.
According to Roche, "Lariam was taken off sale following "a portfolio reassessment" by the company."
They add that "it remains available in 16 European countries."
Back in August 2015 I wrote to the British drug regulator, the MHRA, regarding the number of associated completed suicides on Lariam, a figure I pulled from the MHRA database.
They told me...
"Of the nine UK spontaneous suspected ADR reports of suicide associated with mefloquine, I can confirm that three of the cases were followed up by the MHRA with either the reporting doctor or family member. Two cases were reported to us by pharmaceutical companies and so follow-up was conducted by the Marketing Authorisation Holder.
"The remaining four cases were received between 1998 and 2002 and as such were previously stored in our legacy ADR database. We do not hold records of follow up letters to cases from our legacy database and can confirm that we have no record of any further communications regarding these cases."
Remarkably, the MHRA continue to give the antidepressant, Seroxat, a clean bill of health despite it being reported that there have been 65 reports of completed suicide via the MHRA database. Lariam, to date, has 12 reports of completed suicide associated with its use.
Lariam (Mefloquine) Roche
12 reports of completed suicides (MHRA)
Seroxat (Paroxetine) GlaxoSmithKline
65 reports of completed suicide (MHRA)
Lariam removed from sale in Ireland.
Seroxat still prescribed in Ireland.
The current CEO of the MHRA is Dr Ian Hudson.
Before joining the MHRA Dr Hudson was the Head of World Safety at GlaxoSmithKline.
Do the maths!