Long-Term Health Effects of Antimalarials

Type: Consensus Study
Topics: Global Health, Public Health, Military and Veterans Health
Board: Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice

Activity Description

The National Academies has been asked to examine long-term health effects that may result from use of medications used to prevent malaria. Protecting service members from disease is essential to force readiness. Because service members often deploy for longer periods of time (several months or 1 year or longer) and may have multiple deployments to areas requiring use of antimalarials over their time in the military, there has been concern that use of these drugs for prophylaxis may potentially result in long-term health outcomes. Effects on all organ systems will be considered with particular focus on neurologic and mental health outcomes. Antimalarial medications of primary concern are those that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration or used by the Department of Defense.     

Statement of Task

An ad hoc committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will conduct a study to assess the long-term health effects that might result from the use of antimalarial drugs by adults, in particular mefloquine, for the prophylaxis of malaria. The committee will examine the currently available medications, as approved by Food and Drug Administration and/or used by the Department of Defense, and of concern to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the long-term health effects that might occur in any organ system. These include latent effects that might be expected from their use by Service members during deployment to areas with endemic malaria, such as Afghanistan. Special attention will be given to possible long-term neurologic effects, long-term psychiatric effects and the potential development of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Additionally, the committee will consider approaches for identifying short-term, long-term, and persistent adverse health effects of antimalarials. The committee will develop findings and conclusions based on its review of the evidence; the report will not include recommendations.



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