Excerpt from the OH&S Canada Magazine (July 2017)
The federal Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Published the results of a recent Surgeon General review on using the drug mefloquine to prevent malaria in the military. According to a DND statement dated June 1, 2017 the military will now recommend mefloquine only if a CAF member requests it or if there are contraindications to prescriptions for other anti-malarial drugs.
Although the CAF has been using mefloquine as medication to prevent the disease for more than two decades, concerns have been raised about the drug’s effects on uses with mental-health disorders. Health Canada has placed monographs on mefloquine packages warning about “neuropsychiatric adverse reactions” and “psychiatric or neurological symptoms” during prophylactic use, according to the report.
“We are recommending mefloquine as a second-line drug only, because of the unique operational environment that we work in,” says Brig. Gen. Collin McKay, the federal Surgeon General. “This direction should not be applied to a non-military environment.”
The review examines published studies on mefloquine and its use in military settings. Based on its inclusion criteria, the report found no evidence that mefloquine has potential long-term adverse effects on physical health or that mefloquine is consistently associated with inability to perform job duties.
But Brig. Gen. MacKay advises the CAF to use the drug with caution, due to the difficulty of screening members for contraindications sufficiently within short periods of time. The review speculates that the short-term side effects of mefloquine could be mistaken for typical responses to operational military situations, complicating the management of its adverse effects.
The report recommends that mefloquine be viewed as a less preferred agent that may be considered when alternatives are deemed unsuitable or for persons who have previously tolerated, indicate a preference for and do not have contraindications to mefloquine use.
This report had me compare to the attempt by Trump to promote the prevention of Covid-19 with the malarial drug, “Hydroxychloroquine”. We seem to have issues everywhere with drug limitations and drug trial that may, or may not, be fully complete before a product enters the market. Angela and I believe we need to trust the science and allow those, better educated, to do the work and the rest of us need to trust.
I know this is a problem today but we need to understand that science has tools today that can shorten the timeframe for drug trials to get the product to the market.
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Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.