Keeping Soldiers Safe
Bloomberg School Student's Research Instigates Military Ban on Malaria Drug
Doctoral student Remington Nevin has had to sharpen his time management skills now that he has to juggle his course work and research with media requests to discuss a controversial anti-malarial drug, long-used by the U.S. military.
Nevin’s research into the toxic effects of mefloquine was instrumental in a recent decision by the FDA requiring that the drug carry a boxed warning—the strongest safety category—detailing neurological side effects could be permanent. The drug already carried warnings of adverse psychiatric effects.
A DrPH student in Mental Health, Nevin, MD, MPH ’04, began studying the drug in 2007 as an Army physician in Afghanistan, and has led criticism of its use in the military. He maintains that thousands of service personnel who took mefloquine are suffering from associated neurologic or psychiatric conditions and are routinely misdiagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury, or dismissed as malingering.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t receive an impassioned email from a family member (of a victim) or a victim of the drug,” says Nevin.
Having published in Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease of May 2012 the first clinical description of a toxic syndrome associated with mefloquine, he says he’s encouraged by the Army’s decision to ban the drug in its Special Forces division.
With plans to assume a greater role in advocating for a more general ban on mefloquine in the military, Nevin considers the Bloomberg School’s DrPH Program as an ideal training ground.
“It emphasizes precisely those skills that are required for translating the existing research base into appropriate policy,” he says.