- uploaded: Mar 26, 2012
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Pentagon refusing to Explain, 17 counts of murder Afganistan, Nine days after a U.S. soldier allegedly massacred 17 civilians in Afghanistan, a top-level Pentagon health official ordered a widespread, emergency review of the military's use of a notorius anti-malaria drug called mefloquine.
Mefloquine, also called Lariam, has severe psychiatric side effects. Problems include psychotic behavior, paranoia and hallucinations. The drug has been implicated in numerous suicides and homicides, including deaths in the U.S. military. For years the military has used the weekly pill to help prevent malaria among deployed troops.
The U.S. Army nearly dropped use of mefloquine entirely in 2009 because of the dangers, now only using it in limited circumstances, including sometimes in Afghanistan. The 2009 order from the Army said soldiers who have suffered a traumatic brain injury should not be given the drug.
The soldier accused of grisly Afghanistan murders on March 17 of men, women and children, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq in 2010 during his third combat tour. According to New York Times reporting, repeated combat tours also increase the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Bales' wife, Karilyn Bales, broke her silence in an interview Sunday with NBC's Matt Lauer, airing on Monday's Today show. "It is unbelievable to me. I have no idea what happened, but he would not -- he loves children. He would not do that," she said in excerpts released Sunday.
On March 20, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Jonathan Woodson ordered a new, urgent review to make sure that troops were not getting the drug inappropriately. The task order from Woodson, obtained by The Huffington Post, orders an immediate "review of mefloquine prescribing practices" to be completed by the following Monday, six days after the order was issued.
"Some deployed service members may be prescribed mefloquine for malaria prophylaxis without appropriate documentation in their medical records and without proper screening for contraindications," the order says. It notes that this review must include troops at "deployed locations."