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Briefs (right)

Weld Blames U.S. for Failure
Of School He Led

By Sam Dillon

William F. Weld, who resigned last month as the chief executive officer of a collapsing vocational college in Kentucky, blamed the federal government on Thursday for driving it into bankruptcy by cutting it off from student aid, and said he had offered to cooperate with a federal investigation into the school’s practices.

“As soon as I heard that the FBI had an interest, I called them and said, ‘I’m available if I can be useful,”’ Weld said in a nearly hourlong telephone interview. “They said, ‘Sure, fine, thanks.’ But they haven’t gotten back to me yet.”

Weld, a former governor of Massachusetts who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor of New York, offered his account of the closing of Decker College in Louisville as some of his political associates and other Republicans said that regardless of what investigators find, the school’s troubles are likely to come up in his race.

Decker’s closing, on Oct. 21, interrupted classes for thousands of students, many of them holding student loans they say the school encouraged them to take.

Weld lauded Decker’s educational record, saying it had helped prepare many low-income students for construction and clerical jobs.

“The college did a lot of good,” Weld said. “It served a disadvantaged demographic, predominantly black and Hispanic, got them into the labor force. It served a tremendous purpose for a lot of low-income people trying to improve themselves.”

FDA Reviews Deaths of Child
Tamiflu Users in Japan

By Andrew Pollack

The Food and Drug Administration is looking into reports of deaths and abnormal behavior among children in Japan who took the anti-influenza drug Tamiflu, which is being stockpiled by governments around the world for use in a possible flu pandemic.

The agency said that, given the available information, it could not conclude that Tamiflu had caused the deaths and other problems. It plans to continue to monitor possible complications from the drug for up to two years.

Roche, the company that sells Tamiflu, said that the reports of these problems were rare, given that millions of people had used the drug, and that the problems might have been caused by the flu itself.

The issue of Tamiflu’s safety in children will be discussed Friday by an advisory committee to the FDA at a meeting in Gaithersburg, Md. Seven other drugs will also be discussed at the meeting, but most of the time will be devoted to Tamiflu, also called oseltamivir. While the discussion is not directly related to planning for a pandemic, the FDA said that a better understanding of the safety of Tamiflu for children would be useful in such a situation.

Tamiflu was approved in 1999 in the United States and late in 2000 in Japan. In documents prepared for the meeting, FDA reviewers said 12 children, ages 1 to 16, had died after taking the drug, all of them in Japan. In one document, the reviewers commented on the death of six children ages 2 to 4 who had apparently been healthy before getting the flu. “It is concerning that six young patients died suddenly within one to two days after initiation of oseltamivir therapy,” the reviewers wrote.