medical supplies during any large-scale public health emergency. The CRI acknowledges, and aims to address, the requirements associated with a window of only 48 hours from the time the decision is made to start countermeasures to the time they are actually dispensed. Responding to an anthrax attack is one of the most demanding of all of the vast public health emergencies in both scope and task. Although it is just one of the many threats facing public health, anthrax was the primary focus of the workshop discussion.


With the threat of an anthrax attack as the case study, on March 3–4, 2008, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Forum on Medical and Public Health Preparedness for Catastrophic Events hosted a workshop titled “Medical Countermeasures Dispensing.” The workshop was organized by an independent planning committee. The following is a summary of the presentations and discussion that transpired during the workshop.3 Any opinions, conclusions, or recommendations discussed in this workshop summary are solely those of the individual persons or participants at the workshop and are not necessarily adopted, endorsed, or verified by the Forum or the National Academies. The overall workshop objective was to review a range of solutions to provide medical countermeasures rapidly to large numbers of people to protect them before or during a public health emergency, such as a bioterrorist attack or infectious disease outbreak. In particular, the workshop goals were to: identify and discuss the most promising methods for dispensing medical countermeasures as well as their inherent strengths and challenges; identify near-term opportunities for promoting efficient and effective dispensing mechanisms at the state and local level; and to bring invested stakeholders (including local, state, federal, nonprofit, and corporate representatives) together to discuss these methods, opportunities, and challenges. Dispensing refers to the delivery of medical countermeasures to the population. Distribution, on the other hand, refers to transporting Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) assets (including vendor managed inventory) from its original location to the state receiving, staging, and


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