Bioterrorism FAQs

Amy K. Erickson

Pharmacy Today. 2001;7(11) 

In This Article

How can pharmacists prepare for a bioterrorism attack?

The key is education. "Pharmacists should read up on infectious diseases and know where to find resources in their community," said John Grabenstein, PhD, deputy director for clinical operations, Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program Agency, U.S. Army Medical Command. Pharmacists should be familiar with symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments for agents that could be used as a biological weapon.

Another way pharmacists can prepare for a biological attack in their communities is to get involved with planning committees. "Pharmacists from institutional and community facilities can work together to develop a centralized plan to avoid local competition for available resources," said Kathleen Downs, MPh, medical readiness coordinator with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Emergency Preparedness. "For example, local wholesale distributors need to be identified and brought into the planning process to quantify their ability to render assistance in the wake of a terrorism event."

It may be helpful to keep a list of numbers of public health officials, local hospitals, and law enforcement agencies next to the phone in the pharmacy. "Pharmacists should know where their county or city health departments are," Grabenstein told Pharmacy Today. "They need to be able to think rationally and be aware of their state's bioterrorism plan."

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