Drug induced psychosis as a defense

Reports regarding an Irish court-martial and litigation involving Lariam are most interesting.  Partly because of a case pending decision in the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

The Irish Times reports that:

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has defended the Army’s continued use of the controversial anti-malaria drug Lariam, five years after the US military which pioneered the drug dropped it in the face of health concerns and legal actions from members of the military.

The court martial of a soldier accused of sexual assault this week heard evidence from Dr Ashley Croft, a British specialist in infectious diseases and public health, who said Lariam had been linked to neuropsychiatric disorders including, depression, suicidal tendencies and unusual behaviour, nightmares and psychosis, among other symptoms. . . . The Army private who had claimed he was suffering from the side-effects of Lariam was found guilty on Thursday and has yet to be sentenced.

I’m happy to say that when given Lariam for my Rule of Law teaching trip to Mali in 1996 (which included a visit to Timbuctoo), I suffered no ill effects, but then again, who knows.  🙂

So why the interest beyond any comparative law interest?  CAAF heard oral argument in United States v. MacDonald, No. 14-0001/AR, on Tuesday, May 13, 2014. Appellant was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for, among other things, the premeditated murder of a fellow soldier by repeatedly stabbing him with a knife while he slept.  In a prior comment on CAAFLog a colleague characterized the case as CAAF to explore the bounds of possible drug induced psychosis.  At trial he claimed that the drug Chantix affected him at the time of the offense, partly evidenced by, “the FDA issued an “Alert” about Chantix addressing concern of an association between Chantix and serious neuropsychiatric symptoms including “changes in behavior, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal ideation, and attempted and completed suicide.”