By Dan Olmsted
A study this week found that a service member diagnosed with PTSD was actually suffering from mefloquine toxicity -- the Army-invented malaria drug that can cause suicide, homicide, psychosis, depression and sudden death. It's a topic I wrote about extensively and it's a dead ringer for the autism-vaccine debacle; the government refuses to come to grips with the damage done, and people suffer needlessly as a result. The analogies between the two convinced me the public health establishment will lie and cover up to protect its prerogatives and hide its collateral damage.
I asked Dr. Remington Nevin, a former Army doctor now getting a doctoral degree at Johns Hopkins who has done groundbreaking work on mefloquine (Lariam): "What is your guess about how much of PTSD these days is really Lariam induced?" He replied, "I’m on record as saying it’s probably somewhere in the single digit percentages in military populations — but it could be even higher, depending on the context. Among troops deployed who never saw combat but who were prescribed (and continued to take) mefloquine, the proportion of questionable diagnoses could be much higher — see my chapter 'Mefloquine and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder' for further discussion of this.
"What is interesting is that this is not an effect that is unique to mefloquine. Quinacrine (Atabrine) used in WWII, and chloroquine used in Vietnam both have similar effects. And, of course, what we today consider PTSD was not even formally recognized during either war. Prolonged panic or anxiety reactions in WWII veterans were called 'gross stress reaction,' and were not recognized as a distinct diagnosis among Vietnam veterans until the 1980 DSM III established the new 'PTSD' diagnosis.
"I actually suspect what Vietnam veterans called 'Vietnam syndrome' — which was actually quite different than today’s construct of PTSD — was in many cases simply quinoline antimalarial toxicity."
I am a connoisseur of after-action, lessons-learned reports. It's always interesting to see what, in the clear light of day, caused a disaster. The O-rings. The 9.11 report. The Pentagon Papers. I have a passing relationship to one such nightmare -- the made-up stories by a USA Today staffer that came to light only after a long string of them had gotten into the paper. I sat next to the reporter in the 1980s when he was an ambitious copy boy in the News Section and I was an assistant national editor. The fake stories didn't begin till after I had left the news section; otherwise I'm pretty sure I would have fallen for some, which were usually written from exotic locales that would be very hard to double-check. Plus -- and this counts for a lot in real time -- he was a really, really nice guy. He just had a bad habit of making stuff up, and that's not something you expect a reporter to do at a national newspaper.
So I'll stipulate it's not fair to hold people to standards that would have required superhuman abilities. It's the cases that were or should have been obvious at the time that really hurt. When the Challenger exploded, the engineers in the lunchroom at the manufacturer realized immediately it was their own product, the O-rings, that had caused the explosion (because the cold weather made them vulnerable to coming apart). Even though the editors hadn't caught the USA Today reporter's fabrications, the New York Times reported some of his colleagues "were so suspicious of his dispatches that as long ago as the mid-1990's, they began keeping crude dossiers on him -- questioning the plausibility of his battlefield descriptions, clipping articles from other newspapers that included phrasing similar to (his), and even making copies of his correspondence with editors." The editors said they never heard about it, but the "hindsight" defense no longer worked; they should have created a newsroom culture where the suspicions reached them. Instead, the after-action report said, they created a "climate of fear" in which no one dared say anything. That's why as soon as they read it the news editor and executive editor resigned.
Most recently, the Brits did a full accounting on the reason for invading Iraq along with the United States. As summarized by CBC News, "the six-year study concluded that London and Washington knew a lot — but underestimated or discounted most of the looming dangers and pitfalls. When (Tony) Blair told the inquiry he could not have foreseen the problems in Iraq, (the committee) would have none of it: 'We do not agree that hindsight is required. The risks of internal strife in Iraq, active Iranian pursuits of its interests, regional instability and al-Qaeda activity in Iraq were each explicitly identified before the invasion," the report said.
So when did hindsight cease to be an excuse for the man-made autism epidemic and the failure to do anything about it? There are so many inflection points, from the Brick study to the Verstraeten saga to the Thompson whistle-blowing. Pick your poison. The point is that the time is past for the hindsight defense to exculpate anyone. Someday some prestigious panel will write the kind of report I am addicted to reading. I hope I'm still around for it and that it contains words to the effect that "hindsight is no defense when thousands of parents told their doctors and public officials exactly what happened and the number of cases soared with the vaccine schedule. Most remarkable of all was that the CDC was allowed to continue its monopoly both on the vaccine mandates and the safety studies years after its cluelessness, conflicts of interests and coverup became clear to any impartial observer."
And speaking of mefloquine, it should have been obvious by 2003, when soldiers returning home to Fort Bragg from Afghanistan killed their wives and then themselves, that the drug was too dangerous. Instead the relentless wave of veteran suicide, violence and despair has been swelled by the ignorance and arrogance of the military medical command -- the soul brothers of the CDC, the NIH and the civilian public health establishment. The "hindsight" defense just doesn't cut it, especially not when you are on record blaming the "herd," aka the victims who were trying to tell you.
From the Army Times:
"Mefloquine was developed under the Army’s malaria drug discovery program and approved for use as a malaria prophylactic in 1989. Shortly after commercial production began, stories surfaced about side effects, including hallucinations, delirium and psychoses. Military researchers maintained, however, that it was a 'well-tolerated drug,' with one WRAIR scientist attributing reports of mefloquine-associated psychoses to a 'herd mentality.'
"'Growing controversies over neurological side effects, though, are appearing in the literature, from journal articles to traveler’s magazines and resulting legal ramifications threaten global availability,' wrote researcher Army Col. Wilbur Milhous in 2001. "As the 'herd mentality' of mefloquine associated psychoses continues to gain momentum, it will certainly affect operational compliance and readiness. ... The need for a replacement drug for weekly prophylaxis will continue to escalate.'
"Mefloquine was implicated in a series of murder-suicides at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2002," the Army Times continued, "and media reports also tied it to an uptick in military suicides in 2003."
Yes, media reports of the truth.
A note for those of you expecting the latest installment in the polio series – I’m taking a break to complete another project but will return with a vengeance in a few weeks. I’ve pretty much completed the arc of the 1916 New York City and North Atlantic epidemic, proposing that sugar tainted with arsenic pesticide triggered the outbreak in those with an active poliovirus infection. Next we’ll look at other outbreaks to test and refine our hypothesis, and ultimately examine why polio is the autism of childhood illnesses, and autism is the polio of childhood disorders – both triggered by an environmental factor that orthodox medicine is either slow to recognize or suppresses altogether. I guess you could call it an after-action report; it's all about "hindsight "that should have been just as clear at the time if the experts weren't blinded by their own theories at the cost of ignoring the people right in front of them.
Catch up on the series here.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism