Suit Alleges FDA Never Authorized Use of Anthrax Vaccine
Sonnie Bates, the highest-ranking active-duty military officer to refuse to take the anthrax vaccine, and John Buck, the first military physician to refuse the vaccine, filed a federal lawsuit yesterday alleging that the FDA never authorized the vaccine as a protection against biological warfare, the Washington Post reports. Bates was given an honorable discharge from the Air Force last year, and Buck faces court-martial proceedings over his refusal. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., asks for a court order to require the FDA to treat the vaccine as an experimental drug. If the court rules in the plaintiffs' favor, the military could no longer administer the vaccine without informed consent, the Post reports. The suit is the first to target the FDA's role in anthrax vaccine distribution, Mark Zaid, Bates and Buck's lawyer, said. He added, "The ultimate purpose of this lawsuit is to open the eyes of the Pentagon and the new administration and have them say, 'Enough is enough, this has to end.'" Pentagon officials had hoped to vaccinate all 2.4 million military personnel by 2003. Defense Department spokesperson Jim Turner said that the anthrax vaccine is FDA-approved, adding that the FDA "has determined that the vaccine should not be treated as an experimental drug." The vaccine is "safe and effective," he said (Miller, Washington Post, 5/3).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.