The Defence Committee publishes the Government Response to the Committee's Fourth Report of Session 2015–16, "An acceptable risk? The use of Lariam for military personnel" in its Third Special Report of Session 2016–17 (HC 648).
The Committee welcomes the fact that the Ministry of Defence has accepted most of its recommendations and is now revising its malaria prevention policy in the light of the Report's findings.
In particular, the Committee welcomes the undertaking that, for military personnel, all anti-malarial drugs will be prescribed after face-to-face health risk assessments, and that checks will be introduced to ensure that when Lariam is to be prescribed, the patient must be offered an alternative.
We also welcome the announcement that the MoD has established a single point of contact for present and former personnel who have concerns about their use of Lariam, as the Committee requested.
However, the Committee is very disappointed that the MoD has yet to designate Lariam as a 'drug of last resort' as the Report recommended. This would send out a clear message that the MoD has acknowledged and accepted the high risks associated with the use of Lariam and we urge the MoD to do this without further delay.
We also regret that an MoD spokeswoman recently cited our report as concluding that "in some cases Lariam will be the most effective way of protecting soldiers".
As the Chairman of the Committee has already made clear:
"This puts a gloss on our findings which were strongly critical of the use of this drug in the past".
The Government's Response is a step in the right direction but the Committee will not be in a position to pass judgement until the revised policy is in place. Therefore, the Committee will continue to monitor the MoD's policy in relation to malaria protection by requesting six monthly updates on the MoD's use of Lariam.
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