U.S. has anthrax medical countermeasures program, expert says

Experts gathered on Friday at BARDA Industry Day in Boston to examine the United States' ability to prepare for and treat an anthrax bioterror attack.

Thomas Dreier, an independent biodefense consultant for the U.S. government, told attendees that the nation currently has a program in place for both the short term and long term in the event of the attack, though he indicated that he could not go into detail for security reasons.

Dreier added that both anthrax vaccines and medical countermeasure requirements change over time but that the military currently uses the FDA-licensed anthrax vaccine BioThrax, which it has used for many years. The vaccine is considered to be both safe and effective.

Some experts believe that, in the event of an attack, the recombinant anthrax vaccine would be all that is needed. Dreier warned, however, that that is not without its challenges. To further the ability of the U.S. to counter an anthrax attack, work is proceeding tp reduce the number of anthrax vaccine doses needed both prior to and on indication of post-exposure prophylaxis.

Dreier also said that product candidate vaccines that do not show superiority over existing ones will not be supported by BARDA, which is seeking to continually improve its stockpile to prevent against an attack.