« Home | Dad's Vaccination Hospitalizes Boy, 2 (smallpox) » | Emergent Vaccine Boosts Big Profits » | Sex Assault at Walter Reed Georgia Guardsman was O... » | Court tapes reveal Walter Reed abuse » | Civilians Could be Facing Mandatory Anthrax Shots ... » | Anthrax Shot Returns to Base (Dover AFB) » | Vet Transferred to begin Heart Transplant (Smallpo... » | Pentagon Conducting Research Into Adverse Effects ... » | Anthrax Vaccinations for Soldiers are Not Mandator... » | Emergent (Bioport) Tries Add-On for Its Anthrax Va... »

Responding to a Small-Scale Bioterrorist Anthrax Attack

Responding to a Small-scale Bioterrorist Anthrax Attack

Cost-effectiveness Analysis Comparing Preattack Vaccination With Postattack Antibiotic Treatment and Vaccination

Brian Schmitt, MD, MPH; Deborah Dobrez, PhD; Jorge P. Parada, MD, MPH; Demetrios N. Kyriacou, MD, PhD; Robert M. Golub, MD; Rishi Sharma, MD; Charles Bennett, MD, PhD
Arch Intern Med. 2007;167:655-662.

Background In 2001, a small-scale bioterrorism-related anthrax attack was perpetrated via the US mail. The optimal future response may require strategies different from those required in a large-scale attack.

Methods We conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis using Monte Carlo simulation during a 10-year time frame from a societal perspective to determine the optimal response strategy for a small-scale anthrax attack perpetrated against US Postal Service distribution centers in a large metropolitan area. Three strategies were compared: preattack vaccination of all US distribution center postal workers, postattack antibiotic therapy followed by vaccination of exposed personnel, and postattack antibiotic therapy without vaccination of exposed personnel. Outcome measures were costs, quality-adjusted life-years, and incremental cost-effectiveness. The probabilities for anthrax exposure and infection; vaccine and antibiotic benefits, risks, and costs; and associated clinical outcomes were derived from the medical literature and from bioterrorism experts.

Results Postattack antibiotic therapy and vaccination of exposed postal workers is the most cost-effective response compared with other strategies. The incremental cost-effectiveness is $59 558 per quality-adjusted life-year compared with postattack antibiotic therapy alone.

Preattack vaccination of all distribution center workers is less effective and more costly than the other 2 strategies. Assuming complete adherence to preattack vaccination, the incremental cost-effectiveness compared with postattack antibiotic therapy alone is almost $2.6 million per quality-adjusted life-year.

Conclusion Despite uncertainties about a future anthrax attack and exposure risk, postattack antibiotic therapy and vaccination of exposed personnel seems to be the optimal response to an attack perpetrated through the US Postal Service.

Author Affiliations: Medicine and Neurology Service Line (Dr Schmitt) and Department of Medicine, Hines VA Medical Center, Hines, Ill, and Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, Ill (Drs Schmitt and Parada); Division of Health Policy and Administration, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago (Dr Dobrez); Departments of Emergency Medicine and Preventive Medicine (Dr Kyriacou) and Medicine (Dr Golub), and Division of Hematology/Oncology of the Department of Medicine, Center for Healthcare Studies, and Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center (Dr Bennett), Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Ill; and Midwest Center for Health Services and Policy Research, VA Chicago Health Care System, Lakeside Division (Drs Sharma and Bennett).