ANTHRAX VACCINE: Low Supply Could Lead to Halt of Program
The Pentagon's supply of the controversial anthrax vaccine could be depleted by July, forcing the military to halt its plans to have all 2.4 million servicemen inoculated. The project has been plagued with problems, including the failure to meet the General Accounting Office's fundamental requirement of maintaining an "adequate supply" of the vaccine. That difficulty stems from the failure of the vaccine's only manufacturer, BioPort Corp., to obtain FDA approval to continue production. "This program has been the subject of a great deal of controversy within the military ranks, with legitimate questions being raised ... about the validity of the anthrax threat and the safety and efficacy of the anthrax vaccine," Senate Armed Services Committee Chair John Warner (R- Va.) said at a committee hearing. Associate GAO Director for national security Carole Schuster agreed: "The optimism at the start of this program was overstated." But Rear Adm. Lowell Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, defended the anthrax project, saying the country's armed forces "face a growing possibility of exposure to biological agents in situations over a wide range of contingencies" (AP/Baltimore Sun, 4/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.