Defence drug inquiry welcomed amid calls for more research
RSL Queensland has welcomed plans for a Senate inquiry into the effects of the anti-malarial drugs Mefloquine and Tafenoquine on Defence personnel and reiterated its call for the Federal Government to do more to investigate the issue.
RSL Queensland President Stewart Cameron CSC said the Senate Inquiry was a positive step for veterans but more scientific research was needed to fully investigate the drugs’ side effects on thousands of Australian Defence Force personnel involved in clinical trials.
“There is plenty of anecdotal evidence from veterans who had been prescribed mefloquine during operational service to indicate there might be previously unrecognised side effects that are causing significant problems in their lives,” Mr Cameron said.
“But without reliable scientific research to support their claims, veterans are left in medical limbo and this is completely unacceptable.
“Last year, the Repatriation Medical Authority (RMA) said there was insufficient clinical evidence to establish a causal link between exposure to mefloquine and chemically acquired brain injury. In a review we commissioned, the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation (GMFR) advised that there were no controlled comparison studies into a causal link between mefloquine use and chemically acquired brain injury.
“This highlights the fact that there is a significant gap in the evidence and we owe it to our veterans to establish the facts.”
Last September, RSL Queensland publicly called on the Department of Veterans Affairs to fund research into possible links between mefloquine and chemically acquired brain injury in Defence personnel and last October, wrote to the Minister for Veterans Affairs requesting his support for more research.
“We hope that the Senate Inquiry will give current and former members of the ADF the chance to be heard,” Mr Cameron said.
Media contact: Anita Jaensch – 0439 872 066