Old Outdate Anthrax Vaccine
Given To Canadian Soldiers
TORONTO (CP) -- Defence Minister Art Eggleton acknowledged Tuesday that outdated anthrax vaccines were given to Canadian troops in the Persian Gulf, but said they were safe.
"Regardless of what dates the manufacturer may say these serums are good for, we do our own testing," Eggleton said in Ottawa.
But Eggleton's claim was disputed by a Winnipeg toxicologist.
Dr. Eva Pip told CTV News that no one can gauge the safety of the vaccine because it is bacteria and can break down over time.
An inspection by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the only plant that makes the vaccine to ward off biological agents said the company had relabelled drugs that expired in 1993 with 1998 dates.
CTV showed vaccination documents that showed Canadian troops had been given the relabelled drugs.
The FDA inspection also said vaccines more than three years old may not be stable or potent.
"According to the FDA document because of the numerous problems that were present actually the full extent of the danger isn't known," Pip told CTV.
The inspection done just before troops headed to the Gulf in 1998 also found problems with cleaning equipment, mould was found in some samples and some vials were thrown out because they weren't properly sealed.
CTV reported last week that a Canadian Forces memo sent out last month said the military didn't complete the vaccinations for the troops because there wasn't enough drugs available and states there was a small risk of side effects.
Sgt. Mike Kipling, a 27-year Forces veteran, is at the centre of the controversy after refusing the vaccination order that was given to all Canadian troops in the Gulf.
The Winnipeg-based air force flight engineer was worried the vaccine may be linked to the Gulf War syndrome and is now facing a court martial.
The syndrome is a term used to describe the thousands of Gulf War veterans from the United States, Britain and Canada who came down with unexplainable illnesses after returning from the region.