Controversy has surrounded Lariam since it was launched in 1989, and has been linked to several suicides around the world. Its maker, Hoffman-La Roche estimates that only one in 10,000 users will become so ill from side-effects as to require hospital treatment - although other studies have suggested that as many as one in 140 users may suffer temporarily disabling side-effects.
Malaria kills over two million people every year, making it one of the world's deadliest diseases.
Over 30,000 European and American travellers are infected every year with the disease, which spreads from person to person by mosquitos. Early symptoms are often mistaken for flu (a mild fever, chills, headaches, general malaise). Later symptoms include fever, delirium and confusion.
Cerebral malaria is fatal in 20 per cent of cases.
Lariam is 97 per cent effective in preventing malaria, and is recommended for most African countries, all around the Amazon basin, some parts of Central Asia, and South East Asia.
Doctors point out that contracting malaria could be worse than the side effects of Lariam. But in most cases, there are other anti- malarial drugs available.
Possible side-effects of Lariam include convulsions, depression, hallucinations, dizziness, psychosis, loss of balance, headaches, insomnia, abnormal dreams, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, agitation, fatigue, muscle weakness and loss of appetite. The drug is not recommended for anyone with epilepsy, who is pregnant, for scuba divers, or for anyone who has a history of psychological problems or depression.
Psychological effects are known to occur after stopping taking the drug.
Before being licensed, drug trials were conducted largely on soldiers - who were young, male and healthy. Eight out of 10 adults who experienced the most serious sideeffects were women, who tend to weigh less, but take the same dose as men.
A study by Peter Barrett from the Medical Advisory Service Travellers Abroad found that 40 per cent of people experience some kind of side-effect such as nausea, dizziness, strange or vivid dreams, anxiety, depression or seizures.
While most of these effects are short-term, the way the drug works is not fully understood, and in some people the symptoms may last for months or years.
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