Anti-malarial drug to be withdrawn from Irish market
Published 13/10/2015 | 02:30
The controversial anti-malarial drug Lariam is to be withdrawn from the Irish market next year.
Roche Pharmaceuticals confirmed the drug, which is prescribed to members of the Defence Forces, will no longer be sold in Ireland from July 31, 2016.
The company denied that the decision was linked in any way to litigation it is facing.
Roche is being sued by Irishman Andrew Bryce, who claims side-effects he experienced after taking the drug on his honeymoon, including panic attacks and dizziness, ruined his life.
The case is due before the High Court today.
The Defence Forces is also facing a raft of legal claims from former soldiers who took Lariam on overseas missions.
A spokeswoman for Roche said the move to withdraw mefloquine, which goes by the brand name Lariam, from the Irish market was "a commercial decision" and not linked to any legal or safety issue.
Despite concerns over the safety of the drug, the Department of Defence has stood over its use by the Defence Forces.
In a statement, Roche said Ireland was the only country where Lariam was being withdrawn.
However, the Defence Forces will still be able to buy the drug from international wholesalers.
Lariam was first prescribed to Irish soldiers for the mission in Eritrea in 2001 and is one of a number of anti-malarial drugs used by the Defence Forces overseas.
A working group report commissioned by the Department of Defence on the issue has remained unpublished since it was delivered in 2013.
Earlier this month, Defence Minister Simon Coveney told the Dáil the working group had been recently reconvened and asked to provide an updated report to him later this year.