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Raymond Sheppard: Mefloquine side effects and the Lionel Desmond case

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – After reading my last article on the Lionel Desmond case a white veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) shared some shocking information with me. I will refer to him as CRJ.

Lionel Desmond was a young member of the CAF who suffered from PTSD-like symptoms and racism after two gruesome stints in Afghanistan, and later took his own life after he shot and killed his mother Brenda, 52, his wife Shanna, 31, and their 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah.  

CRJ tells me that since 1993 the drug Mefloguine has been given to hundreds if not thousands of soldiers in the Canadian Armed Forces. 

CRJ says  that this anti-malarial drug was given first in Somalia and then throughout the Afghan mission. Mefloguine’s side effects mimic PTSD with some distinct differences, he says. CRJ directed me to watch CTV’s W5  episode The Guinea Pig Soldiers.

The show describes how the most common side effects of Mefloquine include vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and a rash. However, the most serious side effects include potential long-term mental health problems such as depression, hallucinations, and anxiety and neurological side effects such as poor balance, seizures, and ringing in the ears. 

That’s why the drug is not recommended for individuals with a history of mental health problems or epilepsy.

After viewing the CTV video I was shocked and amazed that allegedly the Government of Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces brass would subject individuals to such horror. 

CRJ also told me that this drug was given out to those who were outside the airfield at Kandahar. Lionel Desmond did two tours as an Infantryman so he was on Mefloquine for at least a year.

CRJ also suggested that I check out the website of Howie, Sacks & Henry, personal injury lawyers, especially the page dealing with mefloquine and a mass tort against the Canadian government and read the Statements of Claim. 

Turns out that there are almost one thousand CAF and DND members, and RCMP members who are part of this class action, including retired Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire.

Mefloquine toxicity destroyed many lives and careers as stated on the W5 program, and as documented in the Statements of Claim. Serious neurological and psychiatric disturbances, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts and attempts, depression, anxiety, amnesia, convulsions, dizziness, balance issues, insomnia, paranoia, bouts of explosive anger, hallucinations, and the list goes on.

“Mefloquine is the Agent Orange of our generation,” said CRJ. “This drug does not discriminate. All ranks were affected, and males and females.”  

Anti-depression drugs do not work on Mefloquine side effects, which should be diagnosed and treated differently. The drug itself does not discriminate. Its damages some 10% of those who take it. Treating its symptoms as if it’s PTSD is even more disturbing because doing so just amplifies the problem. It’s like throwing gas on a fire.

Tragically, this is exactly how they were treating Lionel Desmond, and this may well have driven him over the edge to a horrible and tragic conclusion. 

“Remember, the suicide rate among veterans is three times that of the national rate for this age group. The Lionel Desmond case is by far the worst that I have seen but there are many others, numbering in the hundreds. The good news is that the HSH Mass Tort will look after the families, widows, parents, and widowers….”

CRJ makes the point that the drug Mefloquine is not about racism, it’s been given to all regardless of race. Based on my limited research I agree. However, it has been said that initial trials in the United States were almost exclusively tried out (tested) on African Americans before being given to the Armed Forces members in general.

Mefloquine was the first Public-Private Venture between the US Department of Defense and a pharmaceutical company. WRAIR transferred all its phase I and phase II clinical trial data to Hoffman LaRoche and Smith Kline. FDA approval as a treatment for malaria was swift.

Mefloquine is usually taken once per week to prevent malaria. Lionel Desmond would have been given this drug at least three weeks to one month before going to Afghanistan and the suggestion seems to be that Mefloquine be continued for at least one to two months after one returns to Canada from a geographically area known to have malaria.

It would appear that the powers-that-be of the Department of Defence, Canadian Armed Forces and the Government of Canada knew or should have known of the dangerous side effects of Mefloquine and therefore must take full responsibility and be accountable.

Obviously, this is far from over but I believe that, based on the above, certain tragedies were preventable. 

See also: Raymond Sheppard: The role of racism in the Lionel Desmond case

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One Comment

  1. Thanks Raymond

    They also tested the Mefloquine drug on Prisoners in GTMIO and on those at the Joliette prison near Chicago. I do not think that they actually discriminated based on race. They just did it……
    They just did it onto people they thought they could do it to and over who they had complete control. Regardless, this drug does not discriminate at all on the basis of Race or Gender. Just look at the case of Alana Cutland, who jumped out of a Cessna plane in Madagascar in August this year. Larium (Mefloquine) was found in her baggage and she was having issues with Larium.. This happened and is very real. Regards CRJ.

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