Former soldier’s claim over being prescribed anti-malaria drug Larium adjourned

Soldier claims he suffered from anxiety, panic, insomnia and vertigo due to drug

Patrick Fedigan  claims  the Minister for Defence, Ireland and the Attorney General were negligent and in breach of their duty towards him on grounds including he was not a suitable person to be prescribed Larium. Photograph: Collins Courts

Patrick Fedigan claims the Minister for Defence, Ireland and the Attorney General were negligent and in breach of their duty towards him on grounds including he was not a suitable person to be prescribed Larium. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A former soldier’s damages action against the State over health problems allegedly suffered as a result of being prescribed the anti-malaria drug Larium has been adjourned to next week.

In what is seen as an important test case, Patrick Fedigan has brought proceedings over the alleged effects of taking the drug while he served with the defence forces during UN peacekeeping deployments to Africa that occurred between 2001 and 2009.

The claims are denied. The case is one of several brought against the state by members of the Defence Forces who claim they suffered various illnesses as a result of being prescribed the drug.

Mr Fedigan from Lobinstown, Navan, Co Meath claims that he was prescribed Mefloquine Hydrochloride (Larium) when he served in Eritrea in 2001, Liberia in 2002 and Chad in 2010.

The 51-year-old claims that as a result of his exposure to Larium he has suffered from various conditions including loss of balance, anxiety, panic, insomnia, vertigo, and memory problems.

He claims that the Minister for Defence, Ireland and the Attorney General were negligent and in breach of their duty towards him on grounds including he was not a suitable person to be prescribed Larium.

His prior medical history had not been ascertained before he was prescribed Larium and the defendants did not provide him with adequate support, treatment or management when he made complaints of symptoms of being prescribed the anti-malaria drug he claims.

He further claims that the defendants failed to provide him with a safe system of work, and exposed him to risk of injury which they ought to have known.

He retired from the defence forces in 2013.

The case, expected to last up to ten weeks, was adjourned shortly after it opened before Mr Justice Bernard Barton on Friday to allow Mr Fedigan’s s lawyers consider documents recently discovered by the defendants.

John Gordan SC said his side needed to consider the discovered material contained in several folders in advance of the full opening of the case.

The state defendants, represented by Eoin McCullough SC, deny the claims.

Mr Justice Barton told the court that due to other judicial commitments he would have to hear the case in blocks, which would mean there would be gaps in the evidence.

This was because the court is due to go on circuit and had to take up the High Court jury list in the coming months, he said.

In reply, Mr Gordon said both sides were aware of issues concerning the Judge’s availability but said his client wanted the hearing to proceed.

The case resumes on Tuesday.