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2001-10-15

As Anthrax Threats Spread Across U.S. and the World, the One U.S. Company Licensed to Make the Vaccine Fails FDA Tests, Hasn’t Produced a Single Dose Since 1998

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The anthrax threat is spreading.

Seven anthrax scares were reported across Australia today. The U.S. consulate in Melbourne had to be evacuated after a chemical found in a letter caused a security alarm. The British consulate in Brisbane, in addition to five offices across the northeast state of Queensland, reported suspicious letters containing white powder.

Over the weekend, three new people–a police officer and two lab technicians involved in the investigation at NBC’s New York headquarters–tested positive for anthrax.

Seven other employees of American Media Inc., the tabloid company in Florida, have tested positive for exposure and are being treated with antibiotics.

In Nevada, pictures contained in a letter sent from Malaysia to a Microsoft office were contaminated with anthrax. Officials say that four people who may have come into contact with the letter tested negative, while results weren’t known for two others.

With all of this, anthrax vaccine should be pouring out the door of the only laboratory in the U.S. licensed to make it.

But although the laboratory is working frantically to meet government standards so it can begin producing the vaccine, it has failed to do so. As a result, the government program aimed at vaccinating all U.S. soldiers against anthrax is at a standstill.

The Michigan-based plant, which is owned by BioPort Corporation, has not produced a single dose since 1998, when it bought the plant from the state. Today, we’ll take an in-depth look at the corporation, including the corrupt history of its sale to a former U.S. ambassador.

Guests:

  • Danny Williams, reporter for the Hartford Courant
  • Sam Young, retired FDA regulator.

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