IT failures mean the anti-malarial drug Lariam, which is banned in many countries due to its widely reported psychotic effects, is still being issued to UK troops deploying to war zones around the world.
Senior military doctors have warned that failing IT equipment means that the dangerous drug, which can cause depression and hallucinations, is still being issued to military personnel despite a near total ban.
In 2016, the military apologized for using the drug, also known as Mefloquine, despite official warnings.Ministry of Defense (MoD) medical computers are reported to crash regularly.
The British Medical Association (BMA) is calling on the military to upgrade its systems to prevent “frequent software crashes or total loss of IT.”
The chair of the BMA’s Armed Forces Committee, Colonel Glynn Evans, told the Telegraph on Tuesday: “We’re having to treat real patients in real time and the system cannot keep up with us.”
“Even to print a prescription – it has to go such a convoluted route that it can take 30 minutes to come out, maybe from a printer in a different room.
“You then have the difficulty of the right prescription getting to the right patient.”
He said that issues included not being able to access military medical records when required to see if they were able to take Lariam.
“If you prescribe antimalarials without following the proper procedure you may end up prescribing them to someone who turns out shouldn’t have had it – that is happening,” he said.
The Defense Medical Information Capability Program (DMICP), which is the military medical computer system, is a meant to streamline the process of accessing documents – a function which critics now say it is failing to deliver.
In 2012, Dr. Remington Nevin, a US Army epidemiologist whose research found the drug could be toxic to the brain, told the Daily Mail: “Mefloquine is a zombie drug. It’s dangerous, and it should have been killed off years ago.”