HHS Purchases 1.6M Doses of Radiation Treatment
HHS announced yesterday that it recently purchased 1.6 million doses of the radiation treatment potassium iodide and plans to purchase at least six million more doses within the year, the Washington Post reports. While the department received delivery of the drug last month, it did not announce its purchase until yesterday, shortly after the Washington Post ran a story in which some experts "lamented" the country's lack of a national drug stockpile to respond to a possible attack on a nuclear power plant. "We are intentionally, for security reasons, trying to be as non-specific as we can be about all this," HHS spokesperson William Pierce said. Pierce added that the agency will not disclose where the drug will be stored or how quickly it could be dispensed in the event of an attack. The Post reports that the drug is effective if taken a few hours after exposure to radioactive iodine, a product of a nuclear reactor. The potassium iodide protects the "radiation-sensitive" thyroid gland by preventing absorption of the radioactive iodine. "Anything that gets us closer to having [potassium iodide] available is a good thing," David Becker, an expert with the American Thyroid Association, said. Still, the Post reports that many state officials "remain skeptical" about the value of potassium iodide stockpiles, preferring to evacuate and shelter people in the event of a nuclear attack (Gillis, Washington Post, 1/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.