Manus Island asylum seekers given controversial malaria drug

THE Immigration Department is moving to offer asylum seekers on Manus Island alternatives to a controversial anti-malarial drug known to cause or exacerbate mental health issues in some patients, after Lateline revealed it has been the only option for several years.

Medical staff who once worked on Manus Island have told Lateline the drug mefloquine, also known as Lariam, started being prescribed to an unknown number of asylum seekers in late 2012 and early 2013.

The drug is known to cause agitation, mood swings, panic attacks, confusion, hallucinations, aggression, psychosis and suicidal thoughts in a small number of patients.

People who have, or have had, any mental health condition are advised not to take the medication.

One advantage of mefloquine is that it only needs to be taken once a week, rather than daily.

Read more at the ABC.

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