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Cipro stockpile smaller
than government claims

Posted By Paul Sperry On 10/24/2001 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled

WASHINGTON – The size of the U.S. government’s stockpile of Cipro, the most potent anthrax antibiotic, is smaller than federal officials have claimed, WorldNetDaily has learned.

Cities like New York, meanwhile, have already begun dipping into Cipro reserves to help treat thousands potentially exposed to anthrax spores sent by Allah-praising terrorists through the mail. Many pharmacies in New York, Florida and Washington are running out of the drug, which is made by a German firm with exclusive manufacturing rights.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson has publicly stated that there is enough Cipro on hand to treat about 2 million people for 60 days.

In fact, the 2 million dosages include amoxicillin and doxycycline – antibiotics considered less effective on weapons-grade anthrax – a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official finally revealed after a week of questioning by WorldNetDaily.

Cipro, it turns out, is just part of the 2 million-dosage mix.

“The pharmaceuticals that CDC has, the antibiotics for anthrax, are a mix. It’s not just Cipro,” said Kathy Harben, a spokeswoman for CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in Atlanta.

“It’s a mix of Cipro, doxycycline – which is a type of tetracycline – and amoxicillin – which is a type of penicillin,” she added.

How big is Cipro’s share of the mix? Harben contends such figures are unknown.

“I have tried diligently to get the percentages for the mix of antibiotics,” she said, “but they’re not to be found.”

In other words, the exact amount of Cipro on hand is purportedly a mystery.

Yet Thompson sounded certain of the amount when he appeared on Sunday morning talk shows to allay growing fears over the multi-city anthrax outbreak.

Take his Oct. 14 exchange with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, for instance.

Blitzer: “And on the Cipro, which is the antibiotic that works in the case of anthrax, the 2 million doses that you say …”

Thompson: “It’s more than 2 million [doses, or tablets]. It’s to treat 2 million Americans for 60 [days]. …”

Blitzer: “But the CDC says they would like to increase it [by] 10 million [dosages].”

Thompson: “That is the goal. And we’re hopeful we’ll be able, if Congress appropriates the money – we’re confident they will on a bipartisan basis. We will then be able to treat 12 million.”

Supplies of Cipro and the two other anthrax antibiotics are a part of the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile, stored at eight closely guarded warehouses around the country.

Harben says CDC recently shipped from the stockpile a so-called “push package” of 50 tons of antibiotics, including Cipro, and other materials to New York.

Not to worry, Thompson says. There is still ample supply of Cipro.

“We have enough antibiotics, including Cipro, to meet the needs of the country right now,” he said last week. “No one should be under the impression that we do not have enough.”

Weapons-grade strain?

The fuss over Cipro supplies has to do with its ability to knock out even lab-engineered strains of anthrax.

Naturally occurring anthrax strains are sensitive to penicillin and tetracycline.

But intelligence reports say Soviet scientists, and perhaps others, have bio-engineered a B anthracis vaccine strain to resist the tetracycline and penicillin classes of antibiotics – meaning doxycycline and amoxicillin would be useless against such spores.

Cipro, on the other hand, is said to be effective against even weapons-grade strains, which is why the U.S. military has picked Cipro as its drug of choice to combat anthrax on the battlefield. And last year, responding to concerns about man-made resistant strains of anthrax, the Food and Drug Administration OK’d the use of powerful Cipro specifically for the treatment of anthrax.

House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., insists that the spores found in the Senate Hart building are “weapons-grade material.” Hart building staffers have told WorldNetDaily that they were told by authorities during last week’s testing that the strain found was indeed “weapons-grade.”

But Harben says those spores and others found in New York and Florida – no matter their strain – have been determined to be sensitive to amoxicillin and doxycycline, as well as Cipro, in CDC lab tests conducted recently.

“So there’s no concern there” about second-string antibiotics not working, she said.

As a result, Harben says that individuals initially prescribed Cipro are now being switched to the other antibiotics, which are milder and cause fewer, or less severe, side effects.

Dr. George Miceli, chief of emergency medicine at Boca Raton Community Hospital, which has treated many of the Florida anthrax patients, recommends amoxicillin as an alternative drug, especially for children, who can suffer cartilage and joint damage from Cipro.

And as WorldNetDaily also reported Oct. 16, doctors and pharmacists recommend Levaquin as another alternative. It’s a newer – and stronger – cousin of Cipro in the family of powerful antibiotics called fluoroquinolones.

Previous stories:

Saved from anthrax, sick from Cipro?

Is Cipro safe for kids?


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