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Pentagon takes back comments on anti-nerve agent pill

gulf.war September 27, 1996
Web posted at: 8:15 p.m. EDT

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Pentagon Friday retracted a statement made the day before by its spokesman about an anti-nerve agent pill taken by U.S. troops during the Persian Gulf War.

Capt. Michael Doubleday previously said the troops were not informed of the risks posed by the drug pyridostigmine bromide, to keep Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from knowing what chemical agents the United States was prepared to defend itself against.

But Friday, Doubleday said he was "mistaken," and that he was confusing that pill with another which is designed to protect against biological agents and was given to a much smaller number of troops.

"The implication that this was done for intelligence or security reasons is incorrect. It was done for expediency and efficiency, " he said.

The Pentagon required U.S. troops to take pyridostigmine bromide after getting a waiver from the Food and Drug Administration of requirements for "informed consent."

"The DoD believes most soldiers knew they were taking an oral drug called PB to counter the effects of a possible nerve gas attack," the Pentagon said in a statement. "We believe, however, they did not receive thorough information about the possible side effects of PB."

The Pentagon also retracted Thursday's statement that there had been a "conscious decision" not to inform U.S. troops.

"There was no effort to withhold information from the troops. Information had been prepared to distribute to them. However, it did not arrive before the hostilities were initiated," the statement said.

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