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Feds Pushing Toxic Anthrax Drug? 

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    NHNE News List Current Members: 718 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message. ... FEDS PUSHING TOXIC ANTHRAX DRUG?  By Elliot Borin
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 30 6:49 PM
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      By Elliot Borin
      October 24, 2002


      Many veterans advocates believe a certain anthrax vaccine to be a major
      cause of Gulf War sickness. The company manufacturing it has launched a
      massive lobbying campaign to persuade the Bush administration to stockpile
      the controversial drug so it can be administered to civilians.

      Armed with a report prepared by a panel of company-paid scientific guns for
      hire, Lansing, Michigan-based BioPort is urging Congress to create a
      "civilian equivalent of the U.S. military's Anthrax Vaccine Immunization
      Program (AVIP)."

      BioPort cites anthrax-bearing letters received by Sens. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.)
      and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) as evidence that the United States needs "an
      articulated preparedness plan for immediate immunizations of at-risk
      civilians (and) a strategic anthrax vaccination stockpile" of the company's
      BioThraxin (known as MDPH-PA or AVA before January 2000).

      But some experts say the vaccine, which has been repeatedly withdrawn from
      distribution following FDA and congressional investigations, might not have
      been effective against the bio-engineered tech strain of anthrax mailed to
      Daschle and Leahy.

      "The technology behind the Daschle letter, later the Leahy letter, was very
      sophisticated," said Francis Boyle, professor of law at the University of
      Illinois and a principal author of the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act
      of 1989.

      "(It contained) a trillion spores per gram," Boyle said. "That is
      super-weapons grade. Second, tied in there was a special treatment to
      eliminate electrostatic charges so it would float in the air. You have to
      have special equipment, special treatment, special everything.
      "The only people who would have the capability to do this would be
      individuals who either are currently employed by the Department of Defense
      or the CIA doing biowarfare work, or had been employed by the Department of
      Defense or the CIA doing biowarfare work."

      According to BioPort, which counts the Pentagon as its only anthrax-vaccine
      customer, over 2 million doses of its vaccines "have been given to over
      500,000 service men and women."

      But some critics contend the company may come to regret even mentioning the
      AVIP in its bid to add the compound to the nation's civilian preparedness

      Originally known as the "total-force anthrax vaccination program," AVIP was
      launched by Defense Secretary William S. Cohen in late 1997. Cohen's
      original order called for all 2.4 million members of the active and reserve
      armed forces to receive six shots of the vaccine over an 18-month period,
      followed by annual booster shots.

      Also in 1997, Ret. Admiral William Crowe Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs
      of Staff under Presidents Reagan and Bush and Bill Clinton's chief defender
      against charges of draft-dodging during the 1992 campaign, stepped down as
      President Clinton's ambassador to Britain. After returning to civilian life,
      Crowe purchased a substantial interest in BioPort, which received a Defense
      Department contract to supply the vaccine for the AVIP program shortly

      (Crowe has also been accused by some in the military, including Ret. Air
      Force Major Glenn MacDonald, editor in chief of MilitaryCorruption.com, of
      being involved in the sale of the anthrax bacillus (Bacillus anthracis) to
      Saddam Hussein during Iraq's war with Iran.)

      Mindful of evidence purportedly linking the anthrax drug to unusually high
      rates of brain tumors and other cancers, unremitting headaches, chronic
      insomnia and drug-side-effect-related deaths among Gulf War veterans and
      other military personnel who had received the vaccine, some Defense
      Department doctors refused to administer the drug, and numerous service
      personnel refused to take the shots.

      At least 37 dissenters have been court-martialed and many career officers
      have resigned from the service rather than submit to vaccination.

      Despite the Pentagon's favorable response to a BioPort request for
      indemnification from liability from "the unusually hazardous risks
      associated with potentially severe adverse reactions ... of the AVA," the
      FDA halted implementation of the "total-force" program in 1998. Citing
      quality-control problems at BioPort's manufacturing facility, the FDA
      ordered the company to cease shipment of the vaccine.

      In June 1999, BioPort informed the Defense Department that it would run out
      of cash Aug. 1 and was unable to borrow enough funds to continue operations.
      Hoping to get the vaccination program back on track, the Pentagon agreed to
      raise the per-dose price of MDPH-PA from $4.36 to $10.64. As part of the new
      deal, the Defense Department also gave BioPort an $18.7 million
      interest-free advance payment.

      Despite contractual conditions restricting the use of the advance payment to
      vaccine-production-related expenses, a Department of Defense inspector
      general's audit in 2000 revealed that over $2 million of the money was spent
      on office furniture for BioPort's CEO, travel and other unrelated expenses.
      Like Gen. Douglas MacArthur's old soldier of oratory fame, the "total-force"
      program finally faded away after a congressional investigation of Gulf War
      sickness revealed that the Pentagon had lied about the use of squalene, an
      enzyme thought to improve vaccine effectiveness but not approved by the FDA,
      in MDPH-PA.

      "We have an obligation to pursue the truth, wherever it may lead us," Rep.
      Jack Metcalf said in announcing the squalene findings and calling for the
      termination of the AVIP program. "To do less would be to act dishonorably
      toward the dedicated men and women who stand between us and a
      still-dangerous world."

      In September, the Defense Department announced resumption of a scaled-down
      AVIP program to be administered "consistent with U.S. Food and Drug
      Administration-approved labeling and the best practice of medicine."

      Three companies -- two of them working under contracts issued earlier this
      month by the Department of Health and Human Services -- are vying to produce
      a genetically engineered anthrax vaccine without the risks of BioThraxin,
      which is manufactured from a non-lethal variant of the anthrax bacteria.
      FDA approval of any new anthrax vaccine is expected to take up to seven


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