CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration’s Commissioner Lester Crawford blasting his agency for failing to respond for more than four months while Illinois, New Mexico, New York City and Cleveland waited for approval to import flu vaccine from Europe to address the severe shortage in the United States.
“More than four months ago, on October 25, 2004, I reached out to you seeking approval for the State of Illinois to import flu vaccine made by Aventis Pasteur and Glaxo Smith Kline in Europe. My request came shortly after your agency announced that nearly half of the United State’s flu vaccine supply had to be destroyed, and warned public health departments around the country to put in place tight, emergency plans for limiting the distribution of our country’s limited supply of vaccine,” the Governor wrote. “In an unbelievable display of utter disregard for the citizens of our states and cities, the Food and Drug Administration has yet to respond to our request for approval to import additional supplies of vaccine. We are left in a very difficult situation as a result: it is likely too late to get the vaccine to our populations before flu season peaks, and it is also now difficult to re-sell the vaccine on the European market because their flu season is also waning.”
The European vaccine secured for Illinois, New Mexico, New York City and Cleveland is now being moved back to the European wholesale market.
The Governor pressed Crawford to offer evidence that the FDA is better prepared for future flu seasons and ready to work with states and cities in a timely manner to address future shortages.
“The debacle of the 2004-2005 flu season must serve as a lesson. A future vaccine shortage could prove deadly if not handled more quickly and effectively by the FDA,” said Blagojevich.