Retired Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, who led the UN peacekeeping mission to Rwanda in 1993, has added his name to the growing list of Canadian veterans taking part in a mass tort lawsuit, brought by Howie Sacks & Henry and Waddell Phillips, against the Canadian Government.
Any member, or former member, of the Canadian Armed Forces who was ordered to take mefloquine from 1992 to the present day, and has suffered serious and permanent side effects, is eligible to join the lawsuit.
Mefloquine Lawsuit: A Recap
During the 1990s, military personnel were often prescribed a weekly antimalarial drug called mefloquine (also known under the name “Lariam”), when deployed to regions where malaria was prevalent. However, issues with the drug, including serious adverse side effects, began to be immediately reported by troops. It was not until 2016 that Health Canada finally updated the warning labels for mefloquine, highlighting that serious side effects, including anxiety, paranoia, depression, hallucinations, psychotic behaviour and thoughts of suicide – could persist for months or years.
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Many veterans claim they suffered one or more of these significant side effects after they were ordered to take the anti-malaria drug, which was initially prescribed as part of a clinical trial in Somalia, and then afterwards adopted by the military as their anti-malarial drug of choice. One of the main issues is that the clinical trial did not follow proper procedure. Among its failings, the veterans were not asked to provide their consent and potential side effects were not disclosed to them prior to the trial. Later on, for missions such as those in Rwanda and Afghanistan, the government continued to fail to disclose to its troops the potentially permanent side effects.
As a result, they claim the federal government did not meet its duty of care. Veterans are now seeking compensation for the harm and injuries they have suffered as a result of that negligence on the part of their government.
Dallaire Adds his Name, Support - and Voice
Dallaire has been public about his personal experience taking mefloquine. He has vocalized that mefloquine affected him negatively during his deployment in the ill-fated mission to Rwanda. In the General's book, Waiting for First Light: My Ongoing Battle with PTSD, he writes:
"The drug, Mefloquine, affected my eyesight, sleep and frame of mind. It was the preferred anti-malaria medication because it [was] taken weekly, instead of daily. As early as January 1994, I had been in touch with Ottawa to say this drug was affecting my ability to function, and I wanted to stop taking it. Their response was that my doing so would be considered a self-inflicted wound: a chargeable offence. When I returned to Canada, I fought the Canadian Forces’ medical people to get troops posted in tropical countries off this drug. It took a few years, but they finally did confirm that the side effects were such that troops should stop taking it."
The former senator has also been outspoken about his struggles with post-traumatic stress syndrome. Now that he has joined his fellow veterans in these lawsuits, it will no doubt help push it forward, giving others the courage to join. “It’s a game changer,” says HSH partner Paul Miller.
HSH lawyers can help you create a claim for compensation and damages based on the pain, suffering and losses you have experienced after experiencing side effects from mefloquine. If you or a loved one has been prescribed mefloquine and have experienced harm as a result, HSH can explain your rights and determine whether you may benefit from participating in this mass tort litigation. Call us today at 1-877-771-7006 for a free consultation.
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