Members of the Defence Forces working in sub-Saharan Africa will continue to be supplied with the controversial anti-malaria drug Lariam, Minister with responsibility for Defence Paul Kehoe has told the Dáil.

He was responding to questions from Fianna Fáil's Lisa Chambers and Sinn Féin's Aengus Ó Snodaigh following the withdrawal of the drug from the Irish market.

The minister said that Roche Products Ireland Ltd informed the Defence Forces in early August that it would be discontinuing the supply of Lariam to the Irish market based on commercial assessment.

He said he has been made aware of media reports that a former UK military officer apologised to troops who were given Lariam. But Mr Kehoe said it would not be appropriate for him to comment on the practices of military forces in other countries.

The choice of medication is a medical decision for the Defence Forces, he added.

Ms Chambers said Fianna Fáil has believed that the use of the drug has caused serious problems for the Defence Forces.

Last year, the British Ministry of Defence acknowledged that 1,000 ex-military personnel are suffering severe psychiatric problems as a result of Lariam and RTÉ's Investigations Unit found that people who use it are three to five times more likely to take their own lives.

She asked if the minister expected to have to one day stand up and apologise for the effects of Lariam on members of the Defence Forces.

The minister said he has been given medical advice that Lariam is the most suitable drug for Irish Defence Forces going overseas.

He said he is satisfied he has been given the best medical advice that this is the best prevention against malaria.

Ms Chambers asked to see the medical advice that the minister has been given and accused him of ignoring the evidence that has emerged in the UK.

There are more effective drugs that have less harmful side effects, she said.

She disagreed that Lariam has been withdrawn for commercial reasons and accused the minister of hiding behind expert medical advice that he has not provided.

Mr Ó Snodaigh said he has asked seven different ministers of defence since 2007 and it is high time that Mr Kehoe instructed the Defence Forces to remove the drug from being given to members who are being deployed to Africa.

He said Roche has to say it is withdrawing from the market for commercial grounds or otherwise it would leave itself open to legal action across the country.