The sailor took Lariam during his deployment to Africa
A former sailor in the Royal Navy has told Sky News how the anti-malarial drug, Lariam, made him suicidal on a deployment to Africa.
"Steve", as he has asked to be known, said the drug made him hallucinate and believe he had contracted AIDS after sleeping with a prostitute.
"It was horrendous. It was the worst experience of my life. Those two weeks onboard a ship. I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep. Suicide was a big option. I'd never experienced anything like that before. It was just something I'd never come across in my life."
Steve was medevaced back to the UK for treatment.
Most NATO countries have stopped using Lariam but the once-a-week pill is issued to around 2,500 UK military personnel each year in accordance with Public Health England guidelines.
But the number of military personnel suffering side-effects has prompted a Defence Select Committee investigation.
Major General Alastair Duncan DSO CBE, was a commander of British forces in Bosnia and later Chief of Staff for the UN mission in Sierra Leone. For the past 10 months, he has been sectioned in a secure Intensive Care Unit, suffering mental problems that his wife thinks might be linked to the Lariam he took as a soldier.
Speaking from their home in Somerset, his wife Ellen said she believes it to be "the worst form of friendly fire".
"They join up, they expect risk but they do not expect risk from their own side. Maj Gen Duncan's vehicle was blown up when he was serving in Bosnia. Although he wasn't badly injured physically, he was later diagnosed with PTSD as a result of the incident. His wife believes Lariam he was given prior to the deployment to Sierra Leone in 1999 exacerbated his condition. It's not a question of Alastair being a General. They're all soldiers. They've all done the same job, they deserve the duty of care that's owed them by their government."
Philippa Tuckman is a lawyer representing a number of former personnel, including Steve, who are considering suing the Ministry of Defence: "We know people's lives and careers have been absolutely ruined by the effects. Those people would like an apology and, above all for the future, the Ministry of Defence has got to review - seriously review - its policy on Lariam. It may like to look at making a different drug its first choice."
The most senior medical officer in the military, the Surgeon General, will defend the Armed Forces' use of Lariam when he appears before the Defence Select Committee later today.
A Conservative politician Jonny Mercer, himself a former soldier, is a member of the Committee: "The question is, is the price we're paying for our servicemen, some of whom have suffered really tragic mental health problems after using this, is that price worth paying for the protection we get from malaria which is a killer disease? That is a serious conversation we need to have."
The Ministry of Defence said: "No anti-malarial treatments are without associated side effects but it is crucial we protect our personnel from this potentially fatal disease upon deployment to affected areas. We need to be able to use the most appropriate drug in order to ensure resistance and base our advice on the current guidelines set out by Public Health England. Mefloquine is used throughout the world but is not prescribed widely in the UK military, and only after an individual risk assessment."