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Donated flu vaccine destroyed by Pakistan

/ Source: The Associated Press

Millions of dollars worth of flu vaccine that Illinois donated to Pakistan after federal regulators refused to allow it into the U.S. never helped anyone, according to a published report.

Pakistani health officials destroyed the quarter-million doses of vaccine, worth $2.6 million, because the expiration date had passed, The Chicago Tribune reported Sunday.

“After all, human beings are equal. They are not guinea pigs. And vaccines, if they are not good in one country, they should not be usable in another country,” said Pakistan’s retired Lt. Gen. Farooq Ahmad Khan, who coordinated relief for the Oct. 8, 2005, earthquake that killed 80,000 people.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration ordered the medication from European suppliers in 2004 during a nationwide shortage of flu vaccine, but the U.S. government said it wasn’t approved and refused to let it into the country. Illinois Auditor General William Holland later determined the Democratic governor’s move was an unlawful attempt to bypass regulators.

The vaccine was refrigerated for months before Pakistan destroyed it in November 2006, according to documents Pakistani officials released to the newspaper.

The Blagojevich administration told the newspaper the governor’s office did not track the vaccine once it reached Pakistan and had believed the Pakistanis were happy with the donation.

The Pakistanis said they didn’t know the vaccine had expired when they agreed to accept it.