Some of the 250,000 U.S. troop members who were vaccinated against chemical weapons during the Gulf War received an experimental drug without their consent, news sources report.
The Pentagon made a "conscious decision" not to tell the troops for fear of alerting Iraq to U.S. defenses against chemical attacks, spokesman Navy Capt. Michael Doubleday told reporters Thursday. He advised veterans "not to jump to any conclusions" about the potential effects of the drug and nerve gas exposure.
The drug, pyridostigmine bromide, or PB, is not a Food and Drug Administration-approved pre-treatment against nerve gas, but the FDA agreed to allow the administration of the drug to soldiers because results from Army animal studies showed it provided protection against certain types of gas.
The Defense Department did not get consent from the soldiers vaccinated with the drug because of a wartime waiver granted by the FDA. But Pentagon officials said in the briefing yesterday they should have been more open with the troops.