Mefloquine, the latest and greatest malaria drug, also comes with the worse side effects. The greatest of these is severe psychological disturbances, such as panic attacks and hallucinations, vomiting, dizziness, headache, hair loss, seizures, tinnitus, emotional problems and at least one instance, heart attack (Compendium of Data Sheets, 1996-7). Mefloquine also causes far more adverse neuropsychiatric episodes than proguanil or chloroquine (BMJ, 1996; 313: 525-8).
More than 500 British travellers who claim to be suffering from severe and long term effects of the drug are taking the company to court for compensation (The Guardian, August 30, 1996). The death of a six year old girl to the drug earlier this year topped off the criticism. She had been prescribed Lariam for a holiday to Nigeria but later developed a condition known as toxic epidermal necrolysis, which causes skin blisters and mucus in the eyes and nose. Her nails and hair fell out and she died in intensive care (The Guardian and The Times, January 27, 1997).