HC Deb 03 June 1997 vol 295 c131W
Mr. Vaz

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on his Department's policy relating to the use of the anti-malarial drug lariam. [1485]

Ms Jowell

Mefloquine (Lariam) is a highly effective drug in both preventing and treating malaria. It is particularly valuable where malaria is resistant to other medicines. The Department's policy relating to the use of mefloquine is outlined in the memorandum "Health Information for Overseas Travel" a free copy of which has been provided to all general practitioners. Further information was included in the Chief Medical Officer's Update 10 (May 1996) which was sent to all general practitioners. As with the use of all medicines, the benefits have to be weighed against the risk of adverse reactions.

We are aware of public concerns about the safety of mefloquine, particularly about the nature of the suspected serious adverse reactions reported. Guidelines for health professionals on the use of malaria prophylaxis, including mefloquine, are prepared by an informal group of experts convened by the Malaria Reference Laboratory of the Public Health Laboratory Service. The guidelines are published, most recently in the British Medical Journal in 1995. The group is presently producing a new set of guidelines which, once the consultation process is complete, will be published as soon as possible.