Despite treatment with highly active antibiotics there is still a significant mortality from inhalational anthrax. Because of this, the DHHS Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) Office, funded under Project Bioshield, is working to make a new kind of anthrax medication by collecting blood plasma from people who have been vaccinated against anthrax. Antibodies found in this plasma fight anthrax infections and will be used to create a medication which will be known as anthrax immune globulin or AIG.
Over 1.8 million people have received anthrax vaccine since 1998; most of which were U.S. service members. DHHS asked the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to assist with the AIG plasma program to improve the Nation’s medical defenses against anthrax attack. The DoD agreed to distribute information about this voluntary DHHS BARDA office program to service members.
Per the brochure, eligible plasma donors who have received at least 4 or more doses of the anthrax vaccine, with the most recent dose within the past 21 days, are eligible for immediate donation without further vaccination.
In addition at some locations, individuals can also participate if they have ever received:
*Last dose of anthrax vaccine not within the last 21 days.
These additional AIG programs vary by location, so please contact your nearby plasma center for more details. A list of plasma centers can be found at www.cangeneplasma.com.
FDA standards allow plasma donation as often as twice a week.
However, USAMRIID and DoD laboratory workers are allowed to donate only once per week, if they are involved in duties that involve the risk of potential occupational exposure.
AIG is not yet licensed by the FDA; it is considered an investigational new drug, also called an IND. Products like AIG were commonly used before antibiotics became available in the 1930s and 1940s. Additional research is being done to understand the value of AIG better but animal studies suggest AIG will be useful.
AIG may also go unused if there is no emergency or if some other event arises that prevents its use.