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The silver packaging containing Lariam. Courtesy of David Davies/Flickr

Military Safety: A Systems Perspective on Lariam

Peta Bathie
RUSI Journal, 29 April 2020
UK, Law and Ethics, Military Personnel, Europe
The antimalarial poses dangers for the military performance of the UK armed forces.

Lariam is an antimalarial drug that has a safety profile characterised by a predominance of neuropsychiatric adverse reactions. It is still prescribed within the British armed forces. A purposive survey (n = 28) of serving and ex-serving British military personnel with experience of operations where Lariam was used revealed that 82% experienced side effects and 85.71% considered the drug unsuitable for use during military operations. An additional online survey (n = 50) provided supporting results. Using system theory analysis, Peta Bathie argues that Lariam use degrades decision-making, damages unit morale and erodes cohesiveness. Because it undermines fighting power, the consumption of such antimalarials appears inconsistent with current UK military doctrine.

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