Report at a Glance
Community Storage of Anthrax-Preventing Antibiotics Should be Determined by State, Local Agencies on Basis of Risk Level and Dispensing Capabilities, Says New Report
WASHINGTON -- As part of preparations for a possible large-scale anthrax attack, public health officials on the state and local levels should determine where and how anthrax-preventing antibiotics should be stored in their communities, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. The report recommends that state, local, and tribal health officials work with the federal government to assess the benefits and costs of strategies that preposition antibiotics close to or in the hands of people who will need quick access to them should an attack occur. These locations include local stockpiles, workplace caches, or possibly homes. However, the report discourages broad use of a home storage strategy for the general population due to possible antibiotic misuse and higher costs.
"Delivering antibiotics effectively following an anthrax attack is a tremendous public health challenge," said Robert Bass, chair of the committee that wrote the report and executive director, Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems. "The Strategic National Stockpile has ample supplies of the antibiotics. The issue is not whether inventory is adequate but how to get the medication into people's hands soon enough to be effective. Because needs and capabilities vary across the country, state and local governments will have to examine which strategies would work best for them should an attack occur."