Thursday, December 22, 2011
The Day that Changed the World
I wrote this article the first week of September, 2011.
The 10th anniversary of the most heinous crime in the 21st century is approaching. This article is my recollections of that catastrophic day in the history of the United States.
The 10th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of The World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington D.C is approaching. That unforgettable and catastrophic event can not be erased from my memory and even today, I can still clearly remember what I was doing at that exact time of the bombing (8:46AM, 9/11/01) as well as the next 24 hours of hectic personal activities, related to the bombing. At that time, as an employee of the Food and Drug Administration, I had the opportunity to help the thousands of burnt victims from the fire due to the bombings. The incident and how the members of my review team helped the burnt victims, I considered the highest point in my professional career as Chemistry Team Leader for FDA.
That morning of September 11, 2001, the office of New Drug Chemistry had a joint meeting with representatives of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PHARMA) at the Hilton Hotel in Gaithersburg, MD. At about 9:00 AM, we received an announcement that the meeting was canceled and we could go home, since the World Trade Center in New York was burning. All of the attendees went to the hotel lobby and the TV was announcing the news. I felt sick, depressed but helpless to see the burning WTC building. Later, I learned that the Pentagon in Washington DC was also bombed and another plane crashed in the field somewhere in Southern Pennsylvania. Later I also found out that this United Airline plane was intended for the White House. Had it not been for the courageous heroics of several passengers, the White House would have suffered the same fate as the WTC and the Pentagon.
The most heinous crime of the 21st century produced thousands of burns victims. Two drugs in my division, Sulfamylon and Silvadene, approved for the treatment of burns were out of supply. A chemistry manufacturing supplement has to be approved by Federal law to manufacture more of these ointments in a new facility. This required a review by the chemist, an inspection of the facility by a field inspector, my approval as the chemistry team leader plus the paper work by the project manager. The drugs were needed immediately, so we had to do an expedited review of the manufacturing supplement. It took us only 12 hours to approve the new facility and the review of the chemistry, manufacturing and control submission. This review normally takes between one month and three months depending on the availability of the field inspector and the schedule of the review chemist.
In December, 2001, the four members of my review team received a special cash recognition award from FDA management for our work on expediting the review of the two drugs. Of all my awards, this one is the most appreciated. I felt that I had done my job as a public servant and had helped the victims of the terrorist attack in a timely manner.
The first picture I saw on television that morning of September 11, 2001, I will never forget as long as I live. Do you remember what exactly were you doing that day? Do you know of someone who died?