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Ideas and Opinions |

“Compassionate Use” for Public Health

Kristen A. Feemster, MD, MPH, MSHP; and Paul Offit, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

This article was published online first at www.annals.org on 24 December 2013.


From the University of Pennsylvania and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Potential Conflicts of Interest: Disclosures can be viewed at www.acponline.org/authors/icmje/ConflictOfInterestForms.do?msNum=M13-2927.

Requests for Single Reprints: Kristen A. Feemster, MD, MPH, MSHP, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Division of Infectious Diseases, Room 1202 Abramson Building, 3615 Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104; e-mail, feemster@email.chop.edu.

Current Author Addresses: Drs. Feemster and Offit: The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Division of Infectious Diseases, Room 1202 Abramson Building, 3615 Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Author Contributions: Conception and design: K. A. Feemster, P. Offit.

Drafting of the article: K. A. Feemster, P. Offit.

Critical revision of the article for important intellectual content: K. A. Feemster, P. Offit.

Final approval of the article: K. A. Feemster, P. Offit.

Collection and assembly of data: K. A. Feemster.


Ann Intern Med. 2014;160(6):421-422. doi:10.7326/M13-2927
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Since 22 March 2013, 8 cases of confirmed Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B (MenB) meningitis have occurred among students and visitors at Princeton University. The only vaccine in production that protects against MenB is being distributed in response to the outbreak. This distribution is the first time the “compassionate use” mechanism has been granted to allow a group of healthy persons access to a nontherapeutic biological drug. The authors discuss the ethical implications of this decision.

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Meningitis Outbreak
Posted on March 18, 2014
Laura Kahn
Princeton University
Conflict of Interest: None Declared
Despite concerns about being "guinea pigs," over 90 percent of the Princeton University undergraduates received the first dose of the meningitis b vaccine. The response for the second dose has not been as high, but it is still on-going.

Tragically, a sophomore at Drexel University in Philadelphia died recently from the same strain as the Princeton University and University of California outbreaks. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-03-14/news/sns-rt-us-usa-meningitis-pennsylvania-20140314_1_bexsero-meningitis-strain

Clearly, now is time to make the meningitis b vaccine available to all undergraduates. Waiting for a better vaccine to become available is not acceptable.
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