February 11, 2005: Headlines: Lariam: Safety and Security of Volunteers: Washaington Times: The Pentagon said a study that was begun a year ago to see whether the drug, called Lariam, had led to suicides or other problems is still in the preliminary stages

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Library: Peace Corps: Lariam : The Peace Corps and Lariam: February 11, 2005: Headlines: Lariam: Safety and Security of Volunteers: Washaington Times: The Pentagon said a study that was begun a year ago to see whether the drug, called Lariam, had led to suicides or other problems is still in the preliminary stages

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-48-182.balt.east.verizon.net - on Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 1:54 pm: Edit Post

The Pentagon said a study that was begun a year ago to see whether the drug, called Lariam, had led to suicides or other problems is still in the preliminary stages

The Pentagon said a study that was begun a year ago to see whether the drug, called Lariam, had led to suicides or other problems is still in the preliminary stages

The Pentagon said a study that was begun a year ago to see whether the drug, called Lariam, had led to suicides or other problems is still in the preliminary stages

At Fort Bragg, another violent suicide

By Dan Olmsted

Washington, DC, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Another Special Forces soldier who served in Afghanistan shot himself to death at Fort Bragg last week after wounding his ex-wife and her boyfriend, according to police and military officials. The soldier was in a unit prescribed a controversial malaria drug that has been linked to several other violent incidents ending in soldier suicides.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon said a study that was begun a year ago to see whether the drug, called Lariam, had led to suicides or other problems is still in the preliminary stages. There has been no change in the military's use of the drug, the Pentagon added.

Spc. Richard T. Corcoran, 34, shot himself Feb. 3 at his ex-wife's home near the North Carolina base. He first shot her boyfriend several times, then shot her in the arm. Both survived.

Corcoran served in Afghanistan from September 2002 to March 2003 with the Seventh Special Forces Group in an area where soldiers were routinely prescribed Lariam, according to Major Robert Gowan, a spokesman for the Army Special Operations Command based at Fort Bragg. Gowan said he did not know whether Corcoran actually had taken the drug. Corcoran was in language training at Fort Bragg when he died and was "still training to become a fully qualified Special Forces soldier," the command said in a press release.

In the summer of 2002 three Special Forces soldiers who had served in Afghanistan and took Lariam killed their wives, and subsequently themselves, after returning to Fort Bragg. The Army investigated, ruling out the drug as a common factor in those deaths and instead blaming marital problems. An investigation by United Press International found that all three had exhibited behavior consistent with acknowledged side effects of the drug and that there was no apparent history of violence in the marriages.

UPI uncovered three more suicides by Special Forces soldiers who took the drug.

Since 2003 the Food and Drug Administration has required that anyone prescribed Lariam be given a medication guide that says, "Lariam can rarely cause serious mental problems in some patients. ... There have been reports that in some patients these side effects continue after Lariam is stopped. Some patients taking Lariam think about killing themselves. It is not known whether Lariam was responsible for these suicides."

A spike in suicides by soldiers in Iraq in 2003 led to an Army investigation. The Army largely stopped prescribing Lariam in Iraq last year, citing a lack of malaria risk. The number of suicides there subsequently fell by at least half -- from 24 in 2003 to nine in 2004, with three deaths still under investigation.

Corcoran, the latest Fort Bragg suicide, was charged in 1989 in an incident in Glen Ridge, N.J., in which several football players were accused of raping a mentally retarded girl. The charges against Corcoran were dropped the day before the trial, and he won $200,000 in a federal civil-rights lawsuit claiming malicious prosecution.

A veterans' advocate said the suicide needs to be investigated in light of the earlier deaths involving Special Forces soldiers, the military's most elite and highly trained.

"The indicator now is the psychological battery of tests he would have gone through to be a Special Forces soldier," said Steve Robinson, executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center and a former Army Ranger.

"I don't think anybody can immediately say if Lariam is connected. However, you can't be in Special Forces and be a crazy person."

Last February Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, told Congress he was ordering a study of anti-malaria drugs to see if they were linked to serious health problems in soldiers. The study was a response to concerns that Lariam, widely prescribed to troops in the war on terrorism, was triggering mental illness and suicides.

A year later, a "preliminary prescriptive study" is being conducted that was recommended as a first step by the Armed Forces Epidemiology Board.

"The preliminary study is nearly complete," Pentagon spokesman Jim Turner said in a statement to UPI. "Once completed, it will be briefed to the DoD (Department of Defense) Health Affairs leadership, and then followed by the AFEB-recommended, retrospective cohort study to be conducted by military and civilian scientists, which may take 12-18 months, and then offered for peer-reviewed publication."

Acceptance by a peer-reviewed medical journal, followed by publication, typically takes months and is not guaranteed.

Turner said that study will "help determine if there is any scientifically based cause-effect relationships between mefloquine (Lariam) and medical conditions experienced by service members."

In the meantime, Turner said, the department policy on malaria prevention is unchanged.

"In the case of malaria protection and treatment, DoD healthcare providers follow a policy of using FDA-approved drugs and Centers for Disease Prevention and Control recommendations for the use of mefloquine (Lariam), doxycycline and Malarone as medications effective in preventing infection with chloroquine-resistant Falciparum malaria; there is no change in the Department's use of these drugs," Turner said.

UPI found that in widespread instances soldiers were not receiving the mandatory written warning about Lariam side effects, and prescriptions were not being recorded in their medical records as required by law.

"It is probably a daunting task to figure out if Lariam is a factor in suicides and other issues that veterans are facing when the Department of Defense did not follow the public law," said Robinson of the Gulf War veterans group. "That could be the reason why it might take some time."

He also criticized the study's retrospective approach going back a number of years as "three-card monte" -- a swindling game in which cards are hidden.

"It's a scientific trick to skew the data that we're really looking for," Robinson said. "We're looking for what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan."


(Please send comments to nationaldesk@upi.com.)

When this story was posted in February 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

The Peace Corps Library Date: February 7 2005 No: 438 The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 27,000 index entries in 430 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related stories in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can use the Main Index to find hundreds of stories about what RPCVs with your same interests or from your Country of Service are doing today.
Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps Date: February 7 2005 No: 436 Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps
The White House is proposing $345 Million for the Peace Corps for FY06 - a $27.7 Million (8.7%) increase that would allow at least two new posts and maintain the existing number of volunteers at approximately 7,700. Bush's 2002 proposal to double the Peace Corps to 14,000 volunteers appears to have been forgotten. The proposed budget still needs to be approved by Congress.

February 5, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: February 5 2005 No: 420 February 5, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
Peace Corps swears in 12 new Country Directors 4 Feb
Kenneth Hawkinson studies oral traditions of Mali 4 Feb
Tony Hall urges politicians to bring religious faith to office 4 Feb
Dodd opposes Gonzales nomination 3 Feb
Dr. Robert Zeigler to head Rice Research Institute 3 Feb
Taylor Hackford going into television with "E-Ring" 2 Feb
President Bush's past promises in State of the Union 1 Feb
Moreigh Wolf says gays cannot volunteer with partners 1 Feb
Coleman to chair Peace Corps Subcommittee 1 Feb
Vasquez assesses need in Southeast Asia 31 Jan
James Bullington says Bush Inaugural speaks to PC 31 Jan
Allen Andersson creates foundation to promote libraries 31 Jan
Joseph Opala to film "Priscilla's Homecoming" 31 Jan
Donna Shalala embarks on aggressive UM expansion 31 Jan
Thomas Dichter says Poor Countries Need Smarter Aid 30 Jan
Alberto Ibargüen to head Knight Foundation 28 Jan
Helen Sheehy organizes "Endangered Peoples" exhibit 28 Jan

RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service Date: January 30 2005 No: 405 RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service
RPCV Groups mobilize to support their Countries of Service. Over 200 RPCVS have already applied to the Crisis Corps to provide Tsunami Recovery aid, RPCVs have written a letter urging President Bush and Congress to aid Democracy in Ukraine, and RPCVs are writing NBC about a recent episode of the "West Wing" and asking them to get their facts right about Turkey.
RPCVs contend for Academy Awards  Date: January 31 2005 No: 416 RPCVs contend for Academy Awards
Bolivia RPCV Taylor Hackford's film "Ray" is up for awards in six categories including best picture, best actor and best director. "Autism Is a World" co-produced by Sierra Leone RPCV Douglas Biklen and nominated for best Documentary Short Subject, seeks to increase awareness of developmental disabilities. Colombian film "El Rey," previously in the running for the foreign-language award, includes the urban legend that PCVs teamed up with El Rey to bring cocaine to U.S. soil.
Ask Not Date: January 18 2005 No: 388 Ask Not
As our country prepares for the inauguration of a President, we remember one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century and how his words inspired us. "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."
Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion Date: January 8 2005 No: 373 Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion
Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee that oversees the Peace Corps, says in an op-ed, A chance to show the world America at its best: "Even as that worthy agency mobilizes a "Crisis Corps" of former Peace Corps volunteers to assist with tsunami relief, I believe an opportunity exists to rededicate ourselves to the mission of the Peace Corps and its expansion to touch more and more lives."
RPCVs active in new session of Congress Date: January 8 2005 No: 374 RPCVs active in new session of Congress
In the new session of Congress that begins this week, RPCV Congressman Tom Petri has a proposal to bolster Social Security, Sam Farr supported the objection to the Electoral College count, James Walsh has asked for a waiver to continue heading a powerful Appropriations subcommittee, Chris Shays will no longer be vice chairman of the Budget Committee, and Mike Honda spoke on the floor honoring late Congressman Robert Matsui.
RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid  Date: January 4 2005 No: 366 Latest: RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid
Peace Corps made an appeal last week to all Thailand RPCV's to consider serving again through the Crisis Corps and more than 30 RPCVs have responded so far. RPCVs: Read what an RPCV-led NGO is doing about the crisis an how one RPCV is headed for Sri Lanka to help a nation he grew to love. Question: Is Crisis Corps going to send RPCVs to India, Indonesia and nine other countries that need help?
The World's Broken Promise to our Children Date: December 24 2004 No: 345 The World's Broken Promise to our Children
Former Director Carol Bellamy, now head of Unicef, says that the appalling conditions endured today by half the world's children speak to a broken promise. Too many governments are doing worse than neglecting children -- they are making deliberate, informed choices that hurt children. Read her op-ed and Unicef's report on the State of the World's Children 2005.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Washaington Times

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Lariam; Safety and Security of Volunteers



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.