Faculty concert on Tuesday, October 23, at 8 p.m. the Tsai Performance Center, featuring the world premiere of Dialogues III, Op. 37
Vol. V No. 10   ·   19 October 2001 


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Marketplace, National Public Radio: Nation's anthrax vaccine lacking

The possibility that anthrax has been released intentionally in the United States focuses attention on the only U.S. maker of a vaccine for the disease -- BioPort of Lansing, Mich., which has a Pentagon contract to supply anthrax vaccine for the military. But the company is not actually delivering any vaccine, reports the National Public Radio show Marketplace on October 9. "The United States government has relied on a single pharmaceutical company, which is really that industry's equivalent of ValuJet," says Andrew Bacevich, a CAS professor and director of the Center for International Relations. "BioPort is a firm that since it came into existence in 1998 has failed to produce any vaccine that meets FDA standards." Nevertheless, he says, the government has continued to pour cash into the company -- to date, according to Pentagon figures, to the tune of $126 million.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Arthritis drug may trigger TB

Johnson & Johnson's popular arthritis drug Remicade may spark full-blown tuberculosis in some patients with latent infections, according to a report in the October 11 New England Journal of Medicine. Among patients taking Remicade between 1998, when it was approved, and May 2001, 70 cases of tuberculosis were reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, with 12 related deaths -- substantially more than would normally occur, according to a study from Boston University and FDA researchers. The study, led by Joseph Keane, a MED assistant professor in the pulmonary center, showed that the drug infliximab -- sold under the brand name Remicade and used to treat rheumatoid arthritis -- lowers the resistance of patients with latent TB infection, making them more susceptible to the disease. The results triggered an FDA review of Remicade's safety in August and led Johnson & Johnson to add a black-box warning -- the strongest available -- to the drug's label, advising doctors to test patients for exposure to tuberculosis before prescribing it. "Publication of the study is an important way for spreading the word about the potential for tuberculosis as a side effect of the drug," says Keane in the October 11 Seattle Post-Intelligencer. One person with TB can infect 12 others, he says. "It is one of the single most common bacterial infections, and it is also one of the biggest bacterial killers, with three million deaths worldwide a year."

Boston Globe: Study abroad programs affected by terrorist attacks and new threats

After a steady boom in popularity for the last several years, collegiate overseas programs are now seeing a decline in applications, says the October 14 Boston Globe. Those who are currently enrolled in programs -- and their parents -- worry about traveling far from home when security is impossible to guarantee. Ben DeWinter, associate provost of International Education Programs, says that BU students who are currently abroad are being told to check in with officials frequently, and that staff members in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere speak regularly with local police, consulates, and embassies. The University closely monitors U.S. State Department travel advisories and warnings and makes safety decisions largely based on this advice. While he takes threats by Al Qaeda, the terrorist network supported by Osama bin Laden, seriously, DeWinter says, they aren't enough to persuade him to scale back programs or send out extra warnings to students. "We also have students in Washington -- can we guarantee their safety there?" he asks. "These are important programs, and we're trying to guide Americans as best we can."

"In The News" is compiled by Mark Toth in the Office of Public Relations.


19 October 2001
Boston University
Office of University Relations