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Frequently Asked Questions About Biological and Chemical Agents

Are there enough drugs to go around in case of a widespread outbreak or attack with chemical or biological weapons?

The government is gathering enough smallpox vaccine for everyone in the U.S. in the event of a smallpox attack. No such supply is available for anthrax (only military personnel have been getting vaccinated against anthrax), but antibiotics can treat anthrax infection. Antibiotics are the first line of defense against most biological threats. Antidotes can treat those who have been exposed to chemical agents.

The CDC's National Pharmaceutical Stockpile Program sets aside a large supply of antibiotics, chemical antidotes, and other supplies in case of emergency. The goal is to send materials within 12 hours of notification to any U.S. location in the event of a terrorist attack with a biological or chemical agent. The program is a backup to local response and is deployed upon request by the states. The federal government has made arrangements with pharmaceutical companies to make large amounts of additional emergency supplies.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on August 03, 2012

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