Dave Bona spent 14 years with the Canadian Armed Forces.
Bona, 51, was deployed to Somalia in 1992 and Rwanda in 1994. He said he took mefloquine for a total of 13 months during the two deployments.
“We were told that we had to take the drug, or we weren’t allowed to deploy,” said Bona, who now lives in St. Denis, Sask.
“The first day I took the drug, I had my first seizure.”
While continuing to take the drug in Somalia, Bona said he started struggling with severe depression, along with other side effects.
“It’s the uncontrollable rages, the balance and dizziness issues, the chronic gut issues, the sensitivity to light, the numbness and tingling in my extremities — that’s the mefloquine stuff,” Bona said.
After 14 years of not responding to conventional post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatments, Bona said treatment for a brain injury has made the biggest difference. His seizures have also stopped within the last few years.
Instead of a class action, cases will proceed on an individual basis, with the first couple cases expected to be filed in federal court in the next week.
“I want treatment. I want brain injury specific treatment. It would be nice to have my life back,” Bona said.
“Every individual who wants to commence an action will get their own lawsuit,” said Paul Miller, a Toronto-based personal injury lawyer.
“This is a really emotional case for people. Their lives have been impacted so severely, and this gives them some real skin in the game, in that they are playing a part of it, whereas, in a class action, you don’t really have that same feel and control,” Miller said.
Approximately 1,250 veterans, active military members and RCMP members who took mefloquine have shown interest in launching individual lawsuits, according to Miller.
In 2017, the Canadian Armed Forces released the findings from the Surgeon General’s review on the operational use of mefloquine. According to the review, no evidence was found that would suggest potential long-term adverse effects of mefloquine on human health.
In the same review, mefloquine was also recommended to be used as a second line drug only.