The Departments of Defense (DoD) and Health and Human Services (DHHS) today announced that the military will support a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) effort to create a new medication against anthrax. This new medication, anthrax immune globulin (AIG), is an antibody-based medication and could become a critical medical countermeasure for the nation in case of an anthrax attack.
Anthrax-vaccinated military personnel at Army installations will be invited to donate some of their blood plasma to support this effort to create and evaluate AIG. The first installation is Fort Campbell, Ky. Military personnel will receive brochures and oral presentations about the project when they receive anthrax vaccinations beginning today, Aug. 11, 2004, at Ft. Campbell. Other installations will be included at a later date.
The plasma will be used to make the new medication, AIG. If AIG passes several tests, it will be stored for emergency use to treat patients with severe anthrax infection. AIG use would occur under Food and Drug Administration oversight since AIG is considered an investigational new drug. The plasma-donation project is sponsored by CDC.
Most of the people in the United States vaccinated against anthrax are U.S. military personnel. For this reason, the secretary of Health and Human Services asked for Defense Department assistance in requesting plasma from anthrax-vaccinated troops. Whether AIG will be useful in treating severe cases of anthrax is not yet known, but it is under investigation.
The 2001 anthrax attack catalyzed development of AIG. During the 2001 anthrax attack, the mortality rate from severe (inhalational) anthrax disease was 45 percent. We hope that administering AIG with the recommended antibiotic treatment will decrease the death rate of persons with inhalational anthrax during possible future anthrax attacks.
Plasma donors must have received four or more doses of anthrax vaccine. For this program, most plasma donations will begin between 10 and 21 days after vaccination. Donors must pass a physical examination, medical history screening, and blood tests. The goal is for each donor to begin donating plasma at about two weeks after vaccination, and to continue donating plasma once a week for 10 consecutive weeks.
The plasma will be processed by Cangene Corp., working with plasma-donation centers in Clarksville, Tenn., near Fort Campbell; and other locations at a later date.
For more information about this plasma-donation project, visit http://www.anthrax.mil , or contact CDCmedia relations at (404) 639-3286.