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Anti-malarial drug linked to Afghan massacre

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Posted at 5:19 PM, Jul 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-14 17:30:06-04

Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will soon be sentenced for the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians in March 2012.

New evidence suggests he was prescribed an anti-malaria drug known to cause hallucinations, aggression and psychotic behavior in some patients, according to the Army Times.

The Food and Drug Administration received notification in April 2012 from the maker of the anti-malarial drug Lariam, also manufactured under the generic name mefloquine, that a patient taking the medication “developed homicidal behavior and led to homicide killing 17 [sic] Afghans.”

The report, obtained July 5 by Military Times through a Freedom of Information Act request, states:

“It was reported that this patient was administered mefloquine in direct contradiction to U.S. military rules that mefloquine should not be given to soldiers who had suffered traumatic brain injury due to its propensity to cross blood-brain barriers inciting psychotic, homicidal or suicidal behavior.”

In 2009, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs issued a policy listing mefloquine as a third-choice malaria preventative, behind doxycycline and chloroquine.

The memo stated that in cases where a service member had a history of neurological or mental health disorder, mefloquine should be used with caution only in areas where the malaria strain is resistant to other medications.

Read more at the Army times.