The Department of Veterans Affairs is sponsoring a National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine research study focusing on an 18-month study of the long-term health effects of antimalarial drugs with a focus on mefloquine—widely used by the U.S. military in Afghanistan. During this study significant attention will be directed to the potential long-term neurologic effects, long-term psychiatric effects and the potential development of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Mefloquine was developed by the U.S. government at Walter Reed Institute of Research back in the 1970s. Militaries around the globe have used the drug for troops deployed in malaria-prone regions. The U.S. government began looking at alternatives in 2009 and the FDA added a black box warning to mefloquine as increasing number of side effects were observed—from nightmares to visual auditory hallucinations to anxiety to depression and thoughts of suicide. The study committee includes:

  • David A. Savitz, Ph.D. (Chair) – Professor of epidemiology and associate dean for research in the Brown University School of Public Health
  • Sara Dolan, Ph.D. – Associate professor of psychology and neuroscience and graduate program director at Baylor University
  • Marie R. Griffin, M.D., M.P.H. – Professor of health policy and medicine and director of the Master of Public Health program at Vanderbilt University
  • James P. Herman, Ph.D. – Flor van Naanen professor, chair of the Department of Pharmacology & Systems Physiology and director of the Neurobiology Research Center and the Stress Neurobiology Laboratory at the University of Cincinnati
  • Yuval Neria, Ph.D. – Professor of medical psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center, and director of the PTSD Research Program at the New York State Psychiatric Institute
  • Andy S. Stergachis, Ph.D., M.D. – Director of the Global Medicines Program in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington
  • Elizabeth A. Stuart, Ph.D. – Professor in the Department of Mental Health and associate dean for education at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Carol A. Tamminga, M.D. – Professor, chairman of psychiatry and chief of translation neuroscience research in schizophrenia at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School
  • Jonathan Vennerstrom, Ph.D. – Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Nebraska Medical Center
  • Christina M. Wolfson, Ph.D. – Professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Epidemiology Biostatistics and Occupational Health at McFill University and senior scientist in the Brain Repair and Integrative Neuroscience (BRAIN) Program at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre
Source: National Academies

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