As Health and Human Services Secretary, Tommy Thompson has faced a tough six months in which the September 11 attacks and anthrax scares have dominated the headlines. Thompson visited the disaster sites and directed relief efforts ranging from distributing $90 million in emergency funds to those who suffered losses to urging food industry trade groups to review their security plans. He also testified before a Senate subcommittee in October, addressing fears about biological and chemical assaults. In a statement following the attacks, Thompson said that his agency’s quick reaction to the terrorist attacks demonstrated a high degree of preparedness, but he cautioned that “there is more we can do — and must do — to strengthen our response.”
He played a key role in the government’s effort to stockpile antibiotics for future use, having negotiated a deal with Bayer ensuring that Bayer would supply the government with Ciprofloxacin, the antibiotic that combats anthrax, at the discounted price of 95 cents per tablet (usual price to the government is $1.83). Another project reportedly being undertaken by the government, through Thompson and his office, is the stockpiling of enough smallpox vaccines to vaccinate every American, involving approximately 300 million doses.
Before becoming secretary, Thompson served as governor of Wisconsin for 14 years, winning widespread approval for his efforts to reform Wisconsin’s welfare laws. ♦