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Elite Army units to stop taking anti-malarial drug

(AP) Elite Army units to stop taking anti-malarial drug
By PAULINE JELINEK
Associated Press
WASHINGTON
The top doctor for Green Berets and other elite Army commandos has told troops to immediately stop taking mefloquine (MEHF'-loh-queen), an anti-malarial drug found to cause permanent brain damage in rare cases.

The ban among special operations forces is the latest development in the controversy over mefloquine. The drug was developed by the Army in the 1970s and has been taken by millions of military and civilian travelers over the years.

As alternatives were developed, mefloquine lost its spot as a front-line defense against malaria, a mosquito-borne disease that kills an estimated 600,000 people annually.

The new ban goes further than guidance from top Pentagon health officials, who say that the military's use of mefloquine has dropped significantly but that it is still given to those who can't take alternatives.

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