Anti-malaria drug taken off shelves in Ireland

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The controversial anti- malarial drug Lariam has been withdrawn from sale in the Irish market.

The availability of the drug was discontinued at the end of July but the supplier Roche Products (Ireland) Ltd said yesterday the withdrawal decision was not linked a number of legal cases pending before the High Court.

Lariam is at the centre of a number of legal actions against the State by current and former members of the Defence Forces. The the first case is due to start soon. The Health Products Regulatory Authority yesterday confirmed that the marketing authorisation for Lariam 250mg tablets (PA 50/73/1) in Ireland was withdrawn by Roche Products Ltd in July.

“The reason for the withdrawal, provided by Roche, was commercial,” it said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Roche Products (Ireland) Ltd said the decision regarding Lariam was based on a portfolio reassessment and did not relate to pending legal cases. She said Lariam remains available in 16 out of 23 European countries.

In a statement, the company said: “Pharmaceutical companies regularly undertake portfolio reassessments of the products. Roche has an extensive portfolio of 40 products and, following a recent portfolio reassessment, it decided to discontinue four products in Ireland: Lariam, Rocaltrol, Roferon-A and Vascace. Lariam was discontinued on 31st July 2016.”

Fifty serving or former members of the Defence Forces have lodged claims against the State over the drug and its alleged side effects. Legal proceedings have been served in 37 cases but it will be several months before the first cases are ready to go to hearing in the High Court.

Former naval diver and soldier Anthony Moore, a spokesman for the Action Lariam Group for Irish Soldiers, called on the Department of Defence to reconsider its position in relation to giving Larium to soldiers serving in certain territories overseas.

“It is the drug of choice for Africa and we would ask the Department of Defence to reconsider that,” he said.


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