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Mad Cow Risks One More Strike Against Vaccines, Drugs

If you don't feel as strongly as I do the mega-billion pharmaceutical companies create needless drugs and vaccines that can be toxic to you and your family's health, perhaps you will after hearing about FDA's announcement that it is taking steps to reduce the risk of mad-cow tainted components ending up in children's vaccines and other medications. Why? Pharmaceuticals regulated by FDA -- including human vaccines and animal drugs used on farms -- routinely use cow products.

Although FDA's acting director in their office of vaccine research and review, told pharmaceutical representatives Tuesday that the new rule is aimed at reducing risk of mad cow even further in human and animal drugs, he offered no specifics.

At the time, no North American cases of mad cow, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, had been confirmed, until May 2003, when a cow in Alberta, Canada tested positive for mad cow. And, in December 2003, a second Canadian cow -- a 6 1/2-year-old imported into Washington state -- also was confirmed with mad cow.

There has been more aggressive surveillance by the Agriculture Department since June 1 as tested 63,341 American cow samples, said a USDA senior staff veterinarian. Two samples initially were suspicious but, upon further testing, were found not to contain mad cow.

There have been no reported cases of mad cow transmitted by medications. Dozens of people, however, were infected with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, related to the human form of mad cow, by taking tainted human growth hormone between 1963-85, according to the National Institutes of Health. The method of manufacturing the growth hormone was changed in response to that risk.

The FDA hasn't decided whether manufacturers will have to replace American and Canadian cow products routinely used in vaccine manufacturing, however. Argentina, Australia, Iceland and Uruguay are among the dwindling list of countries provisionally free of mad cow. Also not clear is how the FDA would handle licensed vaccines currently on the market or products progressing along lengthy development pipelines.

Yahoo News September 22, 2004

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