Across Australia right now there are many Defence force members and veterans who believe an anti-malaria drug – mefloquine- they received while serving our country is responsible for a range of physical and mental illnesses they continue to battle to this day.
Most notably used by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) around 20 years ago, mefloquine was provided to troops who were serving on deployments in Timor-Leste (East Timor) and Bougainville as a preventative measure against malaria. It is estimated 3000 troops were prescribed mefloquine during this campaign alone.
Since this time, there have been many documented problems that have arisen that directly relate to its use, including the fact that it is likely many soldiers were not informed of the potential side-effects and did not consent to taking the drug.
The ADF’s use of the drug is subject to a federal Senate Inquiry, the findings of which will be released November 29, 2018.
If you are an Australian Defence Force member or veteran, you may be entitled to compensation if you have been prescribed mefloquine and have suffered adverse side-effects as a result.
What is Mefloquine?
Recognised by the Department of Veterans Affairs as being associated with a vast range of health problems, it is an oral medication used to treat malaria in mild to moderate forms. It can either be used as a pre or post-exposure medication, however, it comes with some potentially serious side-effects and these can, in some cases, lead to several long-term health complications including:
- Depression and anxiety
- Seizures, including epilepsy
- Tinnitus and sensorineural hearing loss
- Toxic retinopathy
- Suicide and attempted suicide
Claiming: Where Do I Go from Here?
The most obvious avenue to make a claim is via the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA).
Both current and former members of the ADF who have been prescribed mefloquine during their ADF service can lodge a claim for military compensation. It does not matter why or when you were prescribed mefloquine, all that matters is that you were prescribed it and, as a result, you have had adverse health effects.
There is no need for you to establish any negligence, it does not matter whether or not you should have used the drug and it is not relevant whether you did or did not consent to taking it. What your claim will boil down to is simply whether you were prescribed it, whether you took the drug and whether you have suffered adverse health effects because of it.
The SRCA, VEA or MRCA
Military compensation claims are complex in nature and you may be covered by any one of three different pieces of legislation (Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act; Veterans’ Entitlements Act; or Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act) in relation to this potential claim. It comes down to your individual circumstances and claiming under the correct Act is vitally important.
Each of these pieces of legislation have different requirements for causation (i.e. what you have to prove to establish that the ADF caused your medical condition) and the one you are covered by depends on several complex factors.
What is important to note, though, is that no single claim is the same. Your claim and what military compensation you might be entitled to is not likely to be the same as another current or former serving member of the ADF.
Moving Forward with Your Claim
We realise that this may be a lot of information for you to take in, however, we would like to stress that if you have or may have been prescribed mefloquine and have suffered adverse health effects, you are highly likely to be entitled to compensation.
Working closely with a team of TGB specialists, together we will determine whether you are in fact eligible to make a claim and can refer you for a comprehensive medical assessment to identify the early onset of any mental or physical health problems that may have been caused by mefloquine.
It is highly important to get specialist advice, particularly with military compensation claims.
Unsure If You Are Eligible?
No matter whether you are sure or unsure whether any of this applies to you, register your details here as a current or former member of the defence forces. A member of the team will be in touch to discuss your individual circumstances and take you through the next steps of the claims process.
Get in Touch!
To discuss anything in this article, or if you believe you may be eligible for military compensation and would like help with your compensation claim, please contact TGB partner Tim White. Tim is a member of the Royal Australian Airforce Reserves, and specialises in military compensation claims.
Tim and his team advise Defence Force members and veterans across Australia on their entitlement to military compensation.