U.S. Drug Stores Report Sudden Increase In Potassium Iodide Sales

U.S. Drug Stores Report Sudden Increase In Potassium Iodide Sales

Mar 15

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U.S. DRUG STORES REPORT SUDDEN INCREASE IN POTASSIUM IODIDE SALES
FoxNews.com
March 15, 2011

Original Link

Pharmacies in West coast states are being inundated with phone calls from people asking for potassium iodide, a drug commonly used to treat low-level radiation exposure.

One drug supplier says it has sold 250,000 anti-radiation pills to people in the U.S. concerned about possible exposure from Japanese nuclear reactors.

Troy Jones, president of Nukepills.com, said his company sold out over the weekend of potassium iodide pills, which prevent against radiation poisoning of the thyroid gland. Jones, in an interview with FoxNews.com, said that the pills were sold to dozens of U.S. pharmacies, corporations, hospitals and nuclear labs.

“You name it,” he said.

Jones said that he has back-ordered more than a million tablets and is expected to get another 10,000 of the liquid potassium iodine. He also said that he has donated about 50,000 pills to Japan, many of them going to a hospital in Tokyo.

Despite assurances from health officials that Americans are not at risk from Japanese nuclear reactors, U.S. drug stores are reporting a sudden increase in sales of the over-the-counter anti-radiation pills.

Potassium iodide pills are reportedly flying off the shelves at drug stores in at least three West Coast states — Oregon, California and Hawaii — according to several local press accounts.

The Wall Street Journal also reports that one Virginia-based supplier, Anbex Inc., sold out of its entire supply of 10,000 14-tablet packages on Saturday.

Alan Morris, president of the company, reportedly said that the supplier is receiving about three orders a minute for $10 packages of its Iosat pills.

“Those who don’t get it are crying. They’re terrified,” Morris told the newspaper.

U.S. health officials have said that dangerous levels of radiation leaking from a crippled nuclear plant in Japan pose little or no risk to people on the U.S. West Coast. But the reassurances have not stopped worried Americans from clearing out potassium iodide supplies at drug stores in Hawaii, Oregon and California.

Stores in Eugene, Ore., for example, have reported a sudden spike in sales of the pill. Janell Davis, vitamin manager at Sundance Natural Foods, told the Register-Guard that the store was sold out of the tablets by Saturday afternoon. In Redding, Calif., some store owners say they can’t stock their shelves fast enough with the tablets.

“As soon as we found out people were calling and coming in and emptying our shelves this morning, I called my boss and she told me to go ahead and order a bunch,” Jan Gertner, who works at Whitney’s Vitamin and Herb Shop, told krcrtv.com.

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POTASSIUM IODIDE RUNS LOW AS AMERICANS SEEK IT OUT
By Jonathan D. Rockoff
Wall Street Journal
March 15, 2011

Original Link

Supplies of potassium iodide, a preventive against radiation poisoning of the thyroid gland, are running low at some manufacturers, as Americans seek protection amid fears that radiation from Japan could head to the U.S., according to the companies.

One leading supplier, Anbex Inc., quickly sold out of its supply of more than 10,000 14-tablet packages on Saturday, said Alan Morris, president of the Williamsburg, Va., company.

He said the closely held firm was getting about three orders a minute for $10 packages of its Iosat pills, up from as few as three a week normally.

“Those who don’t get it are crying. They’re terrified,” said Mr. Morris. The company tells callers that the likelihood of dangerous levels of radiation reaching the U.S. is low, but some callers, particularly on the West Coast, remain afraid, Mr. Morris said.

Interest is also high at Fleming Pharmaceuticals, a St. Louis County company that makes potassium iodide in liquid form. “It actually has been insanity here,” said Deborah Fleming Wurdack, a co-owner.

The company hasn’t accounted for all the recent orders, but Ms. Wurdack estimates the firm is getting dozens of calls an hour, along with emails, requesting the 45-milliliter ThyroShield bottles, which sell for $13.25 each.

Fleming Pharmaceuticals still has supply, but it expects to run out this week, Ms. Wurdack said. It is already planning to make a new round of the bottles, and to order the eyedroppers needed to dispense the solution.

Radioactive iodine can be accidentally released from a nuclear reactor.

Infants are especially at risk of injury, as are young children and people with small amounts of iodine in their thyroid.

Yet the risk is thought to be low that radiation released in Japan will reach the U.S. at dangerous levels. California and Washington state, for instance, have been reassuring residents that monitoring hasn’t detected any harmful levels of radiation, and they don’t it expect to.

“Japan has an evacuation area of about 12 miles from the nuclear plants. Washington state is 5,000 to 6,000 miles away from Japan,” said Tim Church, a spokesman for the Washington State Department of Health.

Likewise, California’s Department of Public Health has been advising residents to resist taking precautionary measures like buying potassium iodide, said spokesman Mike Sicilia.

The drug could cause side effects in people who are allergic to shellfish or suffer from thyroid problems, Mr. Sicilia said.

But the public-health agencies said they had been fielding calls from people asking if they should buy potassium iodide.

The drug information center at the University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics has also been receiving inquiries today from people asking about potassium iodide, said Erin Fox, manager of the organization’s drug information service.

Purchase of potassium iodide doesn’t require a prescription, Ms. Fox said.

Potassium iodide is a salt that stops the body from taking in radioactive iodine that can be emitted during a nuclear emergency.

It fills up the thyroid gland, preventing it from collecting the radioactive material and reducing the risk of cancer, among other things.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says evacuation is the best protection, since it protects the entire body, but taking the medicine is helpful if that isn’t possible.

The NRC has asked states with residents living within a 10-mile radius of a nuclear-power plant to consider potassium iodide, but hasn’t ordered states to make the purchases.

Fleming has received orders from some states that are worried because their stockpiles of potassium iodide will expire in the near future, Ms. Wurdack said. Also making orders, she added, were hospitals and pharmacies.

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RELATED LINK:

Wikipedia: Potassium Iodine: Thyroid Protection Due To Nuclear Accidents And Emergencies
Iodine: Protection From Dangerous Nuclear Events

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