Emails Related to Mefloquine Sent by Chief, U.S. Army PVC

Remington Nevin filed this request with the U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) of the United States of America.
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Remington Nevin

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

Copies of all emails, and any attachments thereto, sent from any official email accounts belonging to COL Trinka Coster, Chief, U.S. Army Pharmacovigilance Center, from July 1, 2013 to the effective date of processing of this request, whose subject line contains the words "mef", "MQ", "mefloquine" or "Lariam".

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Remington Nevin

From: Walukonis, Joseph E CIV (US)

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

Dear Mr. Nevin:

This letter and attached PDF is in response to your FOIA request
dated September 9, 2014 for e-mail records from the account of
COL Trinka Coster where the subject line contains the words "mef,"
"MQ," "mefloquine," or "Lariam" from July 1, 2013 to the present.

I have sent your request to the U.S. Army Medical Command
for action and direct response to you.

Their contact information is in the attached PDF,"FOIA
Letter 14-1867.pdf."

Thank you for your participation in the Army's Freedom of Information Act
Program.

V/R

Joseph E. Walukonis

FOIA Analyst

U.S. Army Records Management and Declassification Agency

Freedom of Information and Privacy Division

703-428-6504

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

From: MuckRock

Hello,

The attached request has been sent to your office for processing. Acknowledgement would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much for your help!

From: Peterson, John Phillip CIV USARMY MEDCOM HQ (US)

Mr. Nevin

This is an acknowledgement of your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for
copies of all emails, and any attachments thereto, sent from any official
email accounts belonging to COL Trinka Coster, Chief, U.S. Army
Pharmacovigilance Center, from 1 July 2013 to the effective date of
processing this request (23 September 2014), whose subject line contains the words:

"mef"
"MQ"
"mefloquine" or
"Lariam"

The MEDCOM frequently work requests for emails. Searches for responsive
records are done in the “most efficient and least expensive manner.” As
defined by the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996, the
term “search” means locating records or information either “manually or by
automated means” and requires agencies to expend “reasonable efforts” in
electronic searches, if requested to do so by requesters willing to pay for
that search activity. The computer operating cost of search depends on the
amount of time spent by an operator conducting the search. Once the record
is located electronically and printed or copied to a medium the search is
over.

With regard to your request for a waiver of any applicable fees, a fee
waiver is appropriate when "disclosure of the requested information is in
the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to
public understanding of the operations and activities of the government and
is not primarily in the commercial interest if the requester." In accordance with
5 United States Code (U.S.C.) § 552(a)(4)(iii) in making a determination, six factors
are considered as to whether your request satisfies this statutory standard:
(1) whether the subject of the requested records concerns the operations or
activities of the government; (2) whether the disclosure is likely to
contribute to an understanding of government operations or activities; (3)
whether disclosure of the requested information will contribute to the
understanding of the general public; (4) whether the disclosure is likely to
contribute significantly to public understanding of government operations
and activities; (5) whether the requester has a commercial interest that
would be furthered by the requested discloser; and, (6) whether any such
commercial interest outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

While the requested information does concern the operations and activities
of the government and does not appear to be intended for commercial
interest, it is not clear how the responsive documents - should they exist -
would significantly contribute to the public understanding of the operations
and activities of the government. After carefully reviewing your request I
am denying your fee waiver request because the information stated does not
support how the documents will significantly contribute to the public's
increased understanding of the operations and activities of the government.
Please be aware that we reserve the right to grant a fee waiver should a
search find documents that meet the criterion of a public interest fee
waiver as described in the previous paragraph.

Accordingly, as you may not be aware, the FOIA requires all requestors to
state a willingness to pay FOIA fees. In that regard, this office has
determined that your request should be placed in the "other" fee category.

In order to fulfill your FOIA request, an electronic search of the Defense
Enterprise E-mail, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Columbus
Network Assurance is required. The individual identified in your request may
or may not have documents responsive to your request. The time spent
searching for records, even if that search fails to locate any records
responsive to your request, is chargeable Accordingly, you are entitled to
the first two hours of search time at no charge, and the first 100 pages of
duplication free of charge. Subsequent processing will be assessed at the
established DoD fee rates of: professional search time, $44 per hour;
executive search time , $75 per hour; and document reproduction at $0.15 per
page.

In coordination with the Defense Enterprise E-mail, Defense
Information Systems, on the average, it will take from 5-10
business days (40-80 hours) to process the request.
Search time would be charged at the executive rate of $75 per hour.

I request your reply as to whether you wish for us to proceed with a formal
cost estimate to coordinate the conduct of a search of the Defense
Enterprise E-mail, Defense Information Systems servers given the above
information.

Because your fee waiver has been denied, you are advised of your right to
appeal this determination to the Secretary of the Army. If you decide to
appeal at this time, your appeal must be submitted within 60 days of the
date of this letter. In your appeal, you must state the basis for your
disagreement. Your appeal should be addressed to: CDR U.S. Army Medical
Command, ATTN: Freedom of Information/Privacy Acts Office, 2748 Worth Road,
Fort Sam Houston, Texas 78234-6021,for forwarding, as appropriate, to the
Office of the Secretary of the Army. Please enclose a copy of this letter
along with your appeal. To ensure proper processing of any appeal the
letter and the envelope should both bear the notation, “Privacy Act/Freedom
of Information Act Appeal.”

Please call upon me should you have any questions concerning this action.

Respectfully,

jpp

John P Peterson
Chief, Freedom of Information/
Privacy Act Office
HQ, U.S. Army Medical Command
(W) 210-221-4233

From: Remington Nevin

Commander,
U.S. Army Medical Command
ATTN: Freedom of Information/Privacy Acts Office
2748 Worth Road
Fort Sam Houston, Texas 78234-6021

Re: FOIA Request FOI/PA #14-1867

This is an appeal under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby appeal the denial of my fee waiver request as described in your letter of September 26, 2014 on the basis that it can be demonstrated that disclosure of the requested information would substantially benefit the public interest.

As described in the original FOIA request, the requested information consists of copies of “all emails, and any attachments thereto, sent from any official email accounts belonging to COL Trinka Coster, Chief, U.S. Army Pharmacovigilance Center, from July 1, 2013 to the effective date of processing of this request, whose subject line contains the words ‘mef’, ‘MQ’, ‘mefloquine’ or ‘Lariam’. These emails would be likely to including findings from pharmacovigilance and drug use studies commenting on the use and adverse health effects associated with use of mefloquine in military populations, including possible use contrary to existing DoD guidelines and regulations.

In substantiation of the claim that release of the requested information would benefit the public interest, it can be demonstrated that: 1. The requestor has utilized similar information to inform both Senate testimony and invited commentary to the Food and Drug Administration on the use of mefloquine within the Department of Defense, and 2. These efforts have led to widespread media attention focusing attention on patterns of widespread misprescribing of mefloquine within the Department of Defense, and the associated health risks of such misprescribing (see, e.g. popular media stories at http://www.cbsnews.com/news/elite-army-units-to-stop-taking-anti-malarial-drug/ and http://www.cbsnews.com/news/some-us-troops-haunted-by-anti-malaria-drugs-side-effects/ where the requestor is directly quoted).

These facts reasonably substantiate that release of the requested information to the requestor would constitute an act “significantly contributing to the public’s increased understanding of the operations and activities of government”.

In your denial of my fee waiver request, your agency incorrectly stated that “[i]n order to fulfill your FOIA request, an electronic search of the Defense Enterprise E-mail, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Columbus Network Assurance is required”.

In fact, according to a public news release (see e.g. http://www.army.mil/article/92583/Army_Medicine_Joins_Enterprise_Email/), since 2013, email to and from U.S. Army Medical Command addressees, including COL Trinka Coster, is processed and retained on email servers which run Microsoft Outlook, an email client which is known to facilitate local searching by users of recently sent and archived emails. According to the previous cited release, this service allocates a total of 4 gigabytes of email storage per user. Given this relatively small quantity of stored data within this system, and the known indexing functions of the Microsoft Outlook email software, it is not plausible that a subject line search for the four search terms ‘mef’, ‘MQ’, ‘mefloquine’ or ‘Lariam’, over the period requested, would take longer than 2 hours. In this regard, please consider this appeal as clarification to limit your search for responsive documents to a local search of sent and archived emails directly accessible to COL Trinka Coster, Chief, U.S. Army Pharmacovigilance Center, or a technical representative with similar acccess, through the Microsoft Outlook software.

These clarifying instructions should substantially expedite the search process and minimize the time your agency must spend in responding to this request. In this regard, please note that in accordance with 5 USC § 552 (a)(4)(A)(ii)(II), fees or FOIA requests “shall be limited to reasonable standard charges for document duplication when records are not sought for commercial use and the request is made by an educational or noncommercial scientific institution, whose purpose is scholarly or scientific research; or a representative of the news media. As such, should your agency deny my fee waiver request, this requestor would nonetheless be entitled to a waiver of any search fees, and the costs of your agency’s compliance with my request must be limited to the actual costs of duplication provided that your agency meets all the statutory time requirements in its response. However, in this regard, please also note that should your agency not meet the statutory time requirement in responding to my request, the provisions of section 6 of the OPEN Government Act of 2007, Pub. L. No. 110-175, 121 Stat. 2524, shall apply, including the provision that "[a]n agency shall not assess search fees (or in the case of a requester described under clause (ii)(II) [of 5 USC § 552 (a)(4)(A) as described above], duplication fees) . . . if the agency fails to comply with any time limit… if no unusual or exceptional circumstances… apply to the processing of the request."

In conclusion, given that my request constitutes a request likely to “significantly [contribute] to the public’s increased understanding of the operations and activities of government”, I respectfully appeal the denial of my fee waiver request and ask that your office expeditiously respond to my clarified request as described above by providing me the requested documents within the statutory period, as required by law.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

Remington Nevin

From: MuckRock

To Whom It May Concern:

The attached Freedom of Information Act appeal was submitted via mail to the appropriate office at U.S. Army Medical Command on September 29, 2014. Acknowledgment of receipt has not yet been provided. Please advise as to the status of both this appeal's delivery and its processing.

Thank you very much for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Sept. 9, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Sept. 9, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Remington Nevin

Commander,
U.S. Army Medical Command
ATTN: Freedom of Information/Privacy Acts Office
2748 Worth Road
Fort Sam Houston, Texas 78234-6021

Re: FOIA Request FOI/PA #14-1867

An appeal dated September 29, 2014 related to this request was sent to your office and has yet to be formally acknowledged. Please acknowledge receipt of this appeal and provide an update on the status of its processing.

I thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Remington Nevin

Commander,
U.S. Army Medical Command
ATTN: Freedom of Information/Privacy Acts Office
2748 Worth Road
Fort Sam Houston, Texas 78234-6021
Telephone: (210) 221-4233/4059
Email: usarmy.jbsa.medcom.list.medcom-foia-users@mail.mil

Re: FOIA Request FOI/PA #14-1867

An appeal dated September 29, 2014 related to this request was sent to your office and has yet to be formally acknowledged. Please acknowledge receipt of this appeal and provide an update on the status of its processing.

I thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Sept. 9, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Remington Nevin

Commander,
U.S. Army Medical Command
ATTN: Freedom of Information/Privacy Acts Office
2748 Worth Road
Fort Sam Houston, Texas 78234-6021
Telephone: (210) 221-4233/4059
Email: usarmy.jbsa.medcom.list.medcom-foia-users@mail.mil

Re: FOIA Request FOI/PA #14-1867

An appeal dated September 29, 2014 related to this request was sent to your office and has yet to be formally acknowledged. Please acknowledge receipt of this appeal and provide an update on the status of its processing. I would appreciate an acknowledgement no later than May 6, 2015.

I thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Remington Nevin

Commander,
U.S. Army Medical Command
ATTN: Freedom of Information/Privacy Acts Office
2748 Worth Road
Fort Sam Houston, Texas 78234-6021
Telephone: (210) 221-4233/4059
Email: usarmy.jbsa.medcom.list.medcom-foia-users@mail.mil

Re: FOIA Request FOI/PA #14-1867

An appeal dated September 29, 2014 related to this request was sent to your office and has yet to be formally acknowledged. Please acknowledge receipt of this appeal and provide an update on the status of its processing.

I thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: Remington Nevin

Commander,
U.S. Army Medical Command
ATTN: Freedom of Information/Privacy Acts Office
2748 Worth Road
Fort Sam Houston, Texas 78234-6021
Telephone: (210) 221-4233/4059
Email: usarmy.jbsa.medcom.list.medcom-foia-users@mail.mil

Re: FOIA Request FOI/PA #14-1867

An appeal dated September 29, 2014 related to this request was sent to your office and has yet to be formally acknowledged. Please acknowledge receipt of this appeal and provide an update on the status of its processing.

I thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

Dr. Remington Nevin

From: MuckRock

Hi John,

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today about this request. I would just like to confirm what we discussed, specifically that you have received this request for the emails of COL Trinka Coster, that the responsive materials are at your office, and that processing is ongoing.

The appeal that Mr. Nevin submitted has not yet been formally acknowledged. That appeal was related to his request for a fee waiver, and I would appreciate it if you could direct us to the appropriate party responsible for handling the appeal and assigning it an Appeal Number; based on your estimate of the number of pages currently being processed, it seems that the fee waiver aspect of this FOIA will be relevant.

Thank you again for your help. We appreciate everything you've done to assist us on these requests.

Best wishes,
Beryl C.D. Lipton

From: Peterson, John Phillip CIV USARMY MEDCOM HQ (US)

Ms. Lipton,

It was a pleasure speaking with you.

Thank you for the clarification.
I am the approving official to grant Mr. Nevin's request for a fee waiver.

Mr. Nevin's request for a fee waiver is approved.

Please call upon me should you require any additional information.

Respectfully,

Jpp

John P Peterson
Chief, Freedom of Information/
Privacy Act Office
HQ, U.S. Army Medical Command
(W) 210-221-4233

john.p.peterson.civ@mail.mil

From: MuckRock

Hi John,

I'm very happy to hear that. Thank you again for your help!

Have a lovely afternoon,
Beryl C.D. Lipton

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Sept. 9, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Sept. 9, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Sept. 9, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thanks for your help, and let me know if further clarification is needed.

From: MEDCOM

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