Army to review medications in Fort Bragg killings
CNN Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Army said it is planning to send an epidemiological team to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to review medical and behavioral issues related to five recent slayings involving military families.
In four of the cases, soldiers allegedly killed their wives; in a fifth instance, a wife is accused in the slaying of her Army husband. Military and local authorities said two of the soldiers committed suicide after their wives were killed.
The Army team will review all medications taken by the people involved and examine behavioral issues to see if they can determine any underlying cause.
The Army said it will conduct a literature search on the use of the malaria drug Lariam to see if there are any reported side effects or problems that might have contributed to the violence.
Three of the four soldiers suspected of killing their wives recently served in Afghanistan and may have taken the drug. But the Army emphasized it will look at all medications the people might have been taking.
Roche Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Lariam, warns on its Web site that the drug may cause symptoms "ranging from anxiety, paranoia and depression, to hallucinations and psychotic behavior."
In a statement released Thursday evening, Roche said, "it is important to note that Lariam is not associated with violent, criminal conduct."
It said the drug "has been used effectively for treating and preventing malaria by more than 25 million people worldwide over the past 17 years. ... There is no medication completely free of adverse events. Antimalarial medications including Lariam are no exception."
An Army representative said that "while there is an investigation under way, it's best for us not to jump to any conclusions about the potential role of mefloquine in these deaths."
The source said, "It is apparent there are many possible influences and 'root causes' for these tragedies, including the combination of many factors."
Army officials indicated they are aware of reported side effects of agitation, depression and aggression but said they have no specific knowledge the drug may have played a role in the deaths.
Roche, in its medical documentation for the drug, said the anti-malaria medicine should not be taken by "patients with active depression or with a recent history of depression, generalized anxiety disorder ... or other major psychiatric disorders."
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