Senior Australian Army doctor accused of culpability over the deaths of tafenoquine and mefloquine drug trial subjects

Australian Army Major Stuart McCarthy in 2015

Vice Admiral Griggs cannot wash his hands of this, try as he might. The ADF caused it, to our eternal shame. The AMI and the authors of those drug trial reports—among them the ADF’s director of military medicine, Colonel Leonard Brennan—bear direct responsibility for those deaths and the legacy of widespread chronic illness among coalition troops. 

Major Stuart McCarthy, testimony to Australian Senate inquiry, 2015

IN Bougainville and Timor, army medical officers also prescribed a drug known as tafenoquine to 1512 troops, even though it had not — and still has not — been approved for use by Australian authorities.

A series of allegations have now been made about the ethics of these trials and the impact they may have had on the mental health of the participants.

One serving army officer who took mefloquine, Major Stuart McCarthy, alleges the trials were “manifestly unethical” because officers compelled soldiers to take the drug without properly warning of the risks.

He’s supported by a US expert who believes the ADF trials were “deeply unethical”.

McCarthy alleges one commanding officer of troops headed for Timor told his men they would not be deployed unless they took part in the trial, which McCarthy says amounts to compulsion.

In evidence to a Senate committee last week, McCarthy named the ADF’s director of military medicine, Colonel Leonard Brennan, as having “direct responsibility” for the chronic illness and death of Australian and allied troops. Brennan is mentioned in academic journals as having been part of the “study team” that tested tafenoquine and he has co-authored articles about the testing of both drugs on soldiers.

Source: Paul Cleary, “Drug trial a test of ethics,” The Australian, September 11, 2015

Curtin University (Perth, Australia) response to query regarding possible involvement in the Linear Clinical Research tafenoquine long-term safety study

LAST week, after a tip-off from a reader in Australia who had been raising safety concerns with universities in Perth regarding the tafenoquine study currently being undertaken by Linear Clinical Research, I sent a query to the Curtin University research office.

This is the response from a Curtin University spokesperson, in full:

Curtin University has absolutely no involvement in the clinical trial, called Long-Term Safety Study of Tafenoquine, being run by Linear Clinical Research and 60 Degrees Pharmaceuticals. Curtin is not currently undertaking any clinical trials related to tafenoquine.

The Curtin staff member you contacted has had no involvement at all in the development of tafenoquine.


Curtin University, Perth, Australia