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Lariam is an antimalarial medication, used to treat and prevent malaria. Malaria is a tropical disease, spread through mosquito bites. It works by destroying the malaria parasite after it has been released into your bloodstream.
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What is Lariam?

Lariam is an antimalarial medication, used for the treatment and prevention of malaria. Malaria is a tropical disease, spread through mosquito bites. When you are bitten by an infected mosquito, the malaria parasite is transmitted into your bloodstream. Malaria is highly treatable, but in some instances it can be fatal.

Lariam is prescription only medication. You must have a valid prescription in order to buy Lariam. However, it is possible for us to prescribe Lariam to you following a brief online consultation. Contact us to find out more.

Lariam contains the active ingredient mefloquine. For more information on Lariam, consult the patient information leaflet.

How it works

Malaria is transmitted by bites from infected mosquitoes. After you are bitten, the malaria parasite travels through your bloodstream to your liver, where it matures and reproduces. It then returns to the bloodstream and begins to infect and destroy red blood cells. Lariam works by destroying the parasite after it is released from the liver.

Lariam will not prevent mosquitoes from biting you, nor will it prevent the parasite from reproducing. It is only able to kill the parasite after it has matured and has returned to the bloodstream from the liver. For this reason, you should make sure to take extra precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Before you take it

It is very important that you do not take Lariam tablets if you are allergic to the active ingredient mefloquine. Speak to your doctor, who will be able to recommend an alternative preventative treatment.

To minimise your risk of contracting malaria, you must take appropriate protective measures. Taking Lariam will not stop you from becoming bitten by a mosquito. You must try to avoid being bitten by covering up any exposed areas of skin, using an insect repellent or an insecticide, sleeping in a screened room or using a mosquito net. You should particularly avoid going out after sunset as this is when mosquitoes are most active.

No antimalarial medication can protect you from every different variation of the malaria parasite. Whether Lariam is suitable for you to take to prevent malaria depends on the area you will be travelling to. You must consult with your doctor to ensure that Lariam will protect against malaria in the area you will be visiting.

You must tell your doctor if you have ever previously experienced anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself. This is because Lariam can cause or exacerbate these symptoms. If this applies to you, you must not take Lariam and your doctor will be able to prescribe a more suitable medication for you to take.

If you have been prescribed a course of halofantrine, Lariam is unsuitable for you. When taken simultaneously, halofantrine (which is used to treat malaria) and Lariam can cause a dangerous alteration in heart rhythm. Do not take halofantrine and Lariam at the same time. Do not take halofantrine if you are already taking or have taken Lariam at any time within the last four months.

If you experience any symptoms of a serious mental problem while taking Lariam, such as nightmares, hallucinations, self endangering behaviour, suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self harm, you must tell your doctor immediately, so they can prescribe an alternative medication to treat or prevent malaria. Do not continue to take Lariam.

Lariam can affect your ability to perform accurate small movements or your spatial awareness. If you attempt to drive, pilot an aircraft or operate machinery, or anything else that requires acute concentration or awareness, you may begin to experience dizziness or loss of balance.

In some patients it has been shown that Lariam can cause vertigo, dizziness and loss of balance several months after stopping Lariam.

If you need an oral vaccine for typhoid, you must receive it at least three days before taking Lariam, as Lariam can prevent it from working properly.

Lariam contains lactose. If you are lactose intolerant, you should not take Lariam. Speak to your doctor, who can recommend an alternative antimalarial treatment.

Due to the risks involved with malaria during pregnancy, it is recommended that you do not travel to a malarious area if you are pregnant. Should you need to travel while pregnant, speak with your doctor, who will advise as to whether Lariam is suitable for you to take.

Lariam will pass into breast milk in very small amounts. However, this could harm a nursing baby. Should you wish to breastfeed while taking Lariam, talk to your doctor, who will decide whether it is suitable for you to do so.

Lariam can interact with certain other medications. You must talk to your doctor before taking Lariam if you are also taking any of the following:

  • Halofantrine to treat malaria (please read above for more information)
  • Any other malaria tablets, such as quinine or chloroquine
  • Antihistamines to treat allergies
  • Medications to treat depression, such as SSRIs, MAO inhibitors or tricyclic antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants such as carbamazepine or phenytoin
  • Ketoconazole to treat fungal infections
  • Antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections such as rifampicin or penicillin
  • Efavirenz or ritonavir, used to treat HIV
  • Tramadol to treat severe pain
  • Medications to treat blood clots or diabetes

This is not a complete list of warnings or interactions. For a full list, you must consult the patient information leaflet or speak to your doctor for advice.

Dosage Instructions

You must always take Lariam as your doctor or pharmacist has told you. Never exceed the stated dose. If you are in any way unsure as to how to take Lariam, you should speak to your doctor or pharmacist and ask them to clarify.

These instructions are for malaria prevention. If you have been prescribed Lariam to treat malaria, your doctor will be able to provide accurate dosage instructions, including when to take your tablets and how many to take.

You must start taking Lariam ten days before you are due to leave for a malarious area. This is to ensure the tablets are well-tolerated by your body and you do not experience serious side effects.

You should take one Lariam 250mg tablet, once a week, always on the same day. Take the first dose ten days before you leave and the second dose three days before you leave. Continue taking the tablets on the same day of the week while you are in a malarious area.

You must continue taking the tablets for four weeks after you return to a malaria-free area, always on the same day each week. The full course of treatment will be at least six weeks, depending on the length of your stay. Do not stop taking the tablets early even if you do not feel unwell. You must finish the full course of tablets prescribed to you.

Please note that Lariam is not guaranteed to prevent malaria. It is still possible to get malaria even if you have followed all the dosage instructions exactly. If you develop flu-like symptoms while you are travelling, or within two to three months after you have returned, go to your doctor immediately.

Common Side Effects of Lariam?

Like all medications Lariam may cause unwanted side effects. These are usually mild to moderate in nature. However, if they persist, or they concern you, you may wish to discuss them with your doctor. Potential side effects include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia)
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Problems with vision
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain

Lariam can also cause more serious side effects. These are rare, but you should report them to your doctor if you experience them. Side effects may include:

  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Heart problems, including palpitations or changes in rhythm
  • Pneumonitis (inflammation of the lungs)
  • Severe liver problems, including jaundice
  • Fainting
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Neuropathy
  • Indigestion
  • Hair loss
  • Joint pains
  • Oedema (swelling)
  • Fever or chills

Lariam may also cause a serious allergic reaction. This is extremely rare, but any allergic reaction is a medical emergency. If you believe you are experiencing an allergic reaction, you must seek medical help immediately. Symptoms can include:

  • Swelling of the mouth, face, tongue, lips or throat
  • Hives or nettle rash
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing
  • Wheezing
  • Skin rash - blistering, peeling, swelling or redness

This is not an exhaustive list of warnings or interactions. For a full list, consult the patient information leaflet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Lariam suitable for children?

Lariam can be taken by some children with the approval of their doctor. Do not administer Lariam to a child to whom it has not been prescribed. We do not prescribe any medication to anyone under the age of 18.

I’m pregnant. Can I take Lariam?

Do not take Lariam if you are pregnant without the specific approval of your doctor. Lariam may harm an unborn baby. It is recommended that if you are pregnant, you do not travel to a malarious area due to the seriousness of malaria during pregnancy.

I’m breastfeeding. Can I take Lariam?

Lariam passes into breast milk in small amounts, and could harm a nursing baby. You should only breastfeed while taking Lariam with the approval of your doctor.

I have returned from my trip and I feel fine. Can I stop taking Lariam?

No. You must take Lariam for the full prescribed course. This is to ensure that there is enough Lariam in your system to kill the malaria parasite, should you have been bitten already but the parasite has not yet had time to mature. It is extremely important you take your full prescribed course, the length of which will depend on your duration of travel.

What happens if I miss a dose?

If you forget to take Lariam, take it as soon as you remember. If it is nearly time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose as normal. Do not double up to make up for a missed dose.

What happens if I take too much?

If you overdose on Lariam it is likely you will experience side effects. They may be more severe than any side effects you have previously experienced. If you believe you have taken too much Lariam, contact a doctor or go to your local hospital casualty department as soon as possible.

More Information
Dosage 250mg
Dosage Instructions Take ONE tablet ONCE a week, on the same day each week during your trip and for 4 weeks after your return. The first dose should be taken 2-3 weeks before entering endemic area.