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DOD created a plan to vaccinate its service-members against many biowarfare threats in the 1990s. At the time, of the potential bioterrorism vaccines that were being considered, only anthrax and smallpox vaccines had licenses, so anthrax vaccine initiated the program in March of 1998.
The first 2 million doses of anthrax vaccine came from a stockpile that had been made for the US army by Michigan’s state vaccine lab. What was apparently unknown when the program was planned, but became known in November 1997 when the FDA finally performed an inspection, was that the army’s 11 million dose stockpile, stored at the Michigan lab, was mostly expired and contaminated, with obvious bacterial and fungal growth in some of the lots. FDA immediately shut down the anthrax vaccine factory, and quarantined 9 million of the 11 million existing doses. Unfortunately, FDA allowed 2 million doses to be used.
The FDA’s inspection report, termed a “483” can be read here.
The Michigan state lab was a massive affair with many buildings on a campus in downtown Lansing. It produced a large variety of different vaccines and blood products for the state of Michigan, and some items for other commercial uses. However, over the years it had become run down, and the state had not made the required repairs and updates. After the 1997 FDA inspection, Michigan had to repair the place or close it. Republican Governor John Engler decided to privatize the lab, and looked for a buyer.
Meantime, the former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral William Crowe, got wind of the Michigan lab. He had come to know the el Hibri family when he was Ambassador to the UK. The el Hibri’s had purchased anthrax vaccine from the UK government laboratory at Porton Down just before the Gulf War, and resold it to the Saudi Arabian government at a 10,000% markup.
Admiral Crowe had changed parties to support Presidential candidate Bill Clinton, and some suggested that the deal to buy the lab was a reward.