Monday, December 8, 2008

Anti-Malaria Drugs causing reoccurring nightmares and psychosis, I want that!

Getting my Typhoid and other injections last week, I had a long conversation with the local Travel doctor contract office about anti-malaria drugs. See, back in 2000 was traveling through Singapore, enroute from Sydney to Hong Kong, and I was given the anti-malaria drug Larium to take, in case I got stuck in Singapore, as the rural areas in Malaysia around the Island State of Singapore are Malaria affected regions. I remarked to the nice doctor how it sucked that once someone takes Larium, they run a 40% chance of having a "false positive" test result for malaria. She acknowledged that as true, BUT, said the side effects for Larium make it a real concern. NIGHTMARES and PSYCHOSIS are the most serious side effects.

So let me get this straight. You're in a foreign tropical country, you're trying to be a responsible business traveler and take your company's medical staff's prescribed medications to keep you healthy so that you can continue to help your corporate bosses out-source your job elsewhere, and in the course of taking an approved medication, you get NIGHTMARES and PSYCHOSIS, in a tropical foreign land? The nice doctor told me she had one patient who said "everytime I closed my eyes, I saw things that I knew were not there. Scary things. I could not function".

NO WHERE did my direct employer EVER mention to me the side effects of NIGHTMARES and PSYCHOSIS. I'm thankful I listened to my Colbertian gut instinct and did not take the Larium I had back in 2000. Instead, for my January trip, I've been given Malarone to take as a prophylaxis against Malaria. Malarone's side effects are much closer to the ever popular Placebo (not to be confused with the band of the same name), and DO NOT include NIGHTMARES and PSYCHOSIS. Note: Malarone is 3X more expensive than Larium - completely worth it to retain my sanity! [Link to CBS News story on Larium linked to the Ft. Bragg multiple spousal killings in 2003]

I'm picturing my friends and colleagues trying to take me to a Bangalore hospital to have me committed if I'd taken Larium. "He has always been rather strange, but his claim of being an elephant riding on the back of a mouse is something he just won't stop focusing upon. We no longer know who this man is. Please do the needful..."

We shall see how things go. Parkalam!

Post-Script: "“She just became completely psychotic in the van,” says Bob. “(She”) started taking her clothes off and she had called people back from the dead. And they had a doctor at this lodge that came into the van. And she looked at Jane and she said, ‘Did she take Lariam?’ She said she had seen this in many Americans.” So had three other doctors in Africa, who confirmed the diagnosis. Jane Daehler was flown home, strapped to her seat with a bedsheet. At home, she spent a month in a psychiatric hospital, in and out of psychosis, with terrifying hallucinations. At the U.S. hospital, she was diagnosed with Lariam-induced psychosis. “They were just horrific. I thought that people were trying to kill me all the time. I thought that my family was going to be killed,” says Jane. "

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