Article published Wednesday, January 29, 2003|
2 drug-makers to offer radiation pills
Sale of potassium iodide expected by
By TOM HENRY
Once tightly controlled by the government,
potassium iodide pills - which offer protection from the radioactive
effects of a nuclear fallout - could soon be as easy to find on
drugstore shelves as aspirin.
The cost wonít be quite as
cheap. But at roughly $10 for a two-week supply, it wonít be nearly
as exorbitant as a lot of over-the-counter drugs and vitamins,
While Internet sales for those products and similar
ones have reputedly been brisk since the terrorist attacks of Sept.
11, 2001, only two companies have received Food and Drug
Administration approval to sell potassium iodide pills at U.S.
One is Anbex of New York, which received
approval weeks ago for its product, Iosat.
authorization to start manufacturing Iosat in 1982, in response to
the 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in
The other is a Swedish company called RECIP AB,
which yesterday announced that its newly formed U.S. division,
called RECIP US, has received approval to sell potassium iodide
pills at U.S. retail outlets under the brand name ThyroSafe. It has
sold a similar item in Europe for years.
combats thyroid cancer, a result of radiation exposure, by flooding
the thyroid glands with harmless iodine and stopping radioactive
iodine from getting in.
"Itís no longer this obscure
survivalist drug. Itís gone mainstream," Jo Flattery, Anbex
Bill Detwiler, RECIP spokesman, said
potassium iodide has been in greater demand because terrorist
attacks "woke us up to the reality of the world."
RECIP expects to have ThyroSafe on the shelves of drug and food
stores by the end of April, including a 65-mg childís
Anbex is moving fast toward getting its 130-mg adult
dosage on retail shelves and is manufacturing a 65-mg pill for
children, Ms. Flattery said.
The sudden availability of
potassium iodide pills occurs as Ottawa County officials are giving
away thousands to 23,000 people who live within 10 miles of
FirstEnergy Corp.ís Davis-Besse nuclear plant, as part of a campaign
administered by the Ohio Department of Health.
one of 17 at the state level funded by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission, will provide free pills to Ohio residents within 10
miles of the Perry and Beaver Valley plants, too.
have a five-year shelf life. One catch to the program is the NRCís
position to have states pick up the cost of any future
Ohioís distribution campaign was well under
way before Davis-Besseís high-profile problems - including a reactor
head that nearly ruptured - became known in March.
have debated for years whether they would be instilling fear or a
false sense of security by making the pills widely available.
Michigan does not stockpile them for the general public.