To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment his Department has made of the suitability of mefloquine hydrochloride as anti-malaria medication for service personnel, with particular reference to side-effects; what information his Department holds on US policy on this matter; and if he will make a statement.
The Ministry of Defence malaria prevention policy is closely aligned to United Kingdom national advice. It is kept under continual review and includes consideration of the varied drugs used for chemoprophylaxis. While there has not been a specific recent assessment of the suitability of mefloquine hydrochloride as anti-malaria medication for service personnel, including side-effects, there has not been a specific assessment of the suitability of any other drug either.
Mefloquine is a licensed and extremely effective drug at preventing malaria; it is used by the military in many (but not all) parts of the world where British troops deploy. There is currently no evidence that United Kingdom service personnel are at a particular increased risk from adverse drug events related to mefloquine use for chemoprophylaxis. If compelling evidence is produced from the body of global scientific evidence regarding the use of mefloquine then it is likely that the UK licence would be reviewed and advice from the Advisory Committee on Malaria Prevention (ACMP) would change.
The UK ACMP, whose membership comprises national experts on the subject (including the MOD's Defence Consultant Adviser in Communicable Diseases), advises on the key elements with respect to choice of drugs for anti-malaria chemoprophylaxis. The ACMP, which was established by the Health Protection Agency, is the authoritative source of guidance in the United Kingdom.
The UK Defence Medical Services have a close working relationship with colleagues in the US armed forces, and we are aware of current US practice in theatre regarding this matter.