Veteran Wayne Karakyriacos is speaking against trialling antimalarial drugs on soldiers, as he was involved in testing for his East Timor deployment. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Veteran Wayne Karakyriacos is speaking against trialling antimalarial drugs on soldiers, as he was involved in testing for his East Timor deployment. Picture: Alix Sweeney

‘We’re not petri dishes’: Veteran’s drug trial plea to ADF

A Townsville veteran who participated in a previous antimalarial drug trial has slammed the Australian Defence Force's decision to test a controversial drug's effectiveness against the novel coronavirus on personnel.

Wayne Karakyriacos deployed to East Timor in 2000 and was placed on the drug tafenoquine for seven months claiming he, along with other troops, were told if they didn't take it, they couldn't go.

"We were just a petri dish for them (ADF). I don't think the ethics are there," he said. "This is never going to leave me, I'm not after anything monetary, I just want a guarantee that no soldier will be placed on these trials.

"I'm disgusted that the antimalarials will ever be tested again."

 

 

Mr Karakyriacos said the trial had a debilitating impact on his life, having suffered a marriage breakdown as a result of his mental health issues that he said were caused by the drugs.

"It's poisoning perfectly good soldiers and ruining their careers," he said. "I had to give my bloods and urine, and that was the last I ever heard from them.

"No one ever checked up to see if there had been any side effects on me or for further studies."

About 3000 troops were given mefloquine and tafenoquine before they were deployed to East Timor and Bougainville in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

In 2018, a Senate inquiry made recommendations to improve veteran access to treatment and support.

Originally published as 'We're not petri dishes': Veteran's drug trial plea to ADF


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