The Australian Defence Force (ADF) said yesterday only five soldiers had suffered adverse reactions in defence trials of a widely used anti-malarial drug, rejecting claims of widespread side-effects including psychosis.
The ADF was responding to a report that hundreds of Australian soldiers serving in East Timor were ordered to take the drug Lariam as part of tests to observe side-effects, which can also include depression and paranoia.
An ADF spokeswoman said Defence’s preferred anti-malarial was the antibiotic Doxycycline.
But the few personnel unable to tolerate that drug could be given Lariam, which was also known as Mefloquine.
The Sunday Telegraph newspaper said a Brisbane law firm was set to launch a class action on behalf of hundreds of soldiers who said they were used as guinea pigs to test the effects of Mefloquine while serving in East Timor.