"Minutes after two hijacked airliners crashed into the World Trade Center on the morning of Sept.11, 2001, the Federal Aviation Administration stopped all flights from U.S. airports. It marked the first time that air traffic came to a halt nationwide. Soon after, a third plane crashed into the Pentagon, and a fourth plane thought to be headed for another target in Washington, D.C., crashed into a field in Somerset County, Pa. All told, more than 3,000 people died. Experts from the Food and Drug Administration immediately became involved. They ensured that blood could be collected quickly from people living near the disaster sites to help the injured survivors. Other agency experts evaluated burn wound dressings that could be used to treat victims and checked on reserves of drugs and medical supplies. And while the country was still reeling from these tragedies, terrorists launched more attacks through the mail in October 2001. Letters containing anthrax spores (Bacillus anthracis) were mailed to U.S. senators and members of the media. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded 22 cases of anthrax. There were 11 cases of cutaneous (skin-based) anthrax and 11 cases of inhalational anthrax. Among the inhalational cases, there were five deaths. A key challenge for public health workers was the fact that early inhalational anthrax symptoms are similar to those of common illnesses such as the flu. Lung infections with anthrax can rapidly become fatal unless appropriate antibiotic treatment is started very soon after symptoms develop." This report investigates FDA strategies for counterterrorism, and places the response of the FDA to threats into context of past attacks and present-day capabilities.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration: http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/
FDA Consumer Magazine (January-February 2004)