According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although potassium iodide itself is not harmful and is an essential chemical that the human body needs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that radioactive iodine can damage the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located on the front of the neck that produces many hormones. that regulate the functioning of the thyroid gland. body.
The danger lies in the fact that in the case of radiation exposure, the thyroid gland cannot distinguish between ordinary iodine and radioactive iodine and will absorb both substances. Overexposure can lead to thyroid cancer.
When used as directed, potassium iodide in liquid or tablet form can quickly saturate the thyroid gland and prevent it from being absorbed by radioactive iodine.
Price gouging begins
Major producers of US-licensed potassium iodide have seen stocks run out quickly in recent weeks, coinciding with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
As the supply in the market dries up, price gouging begins.
It is also important to know that potassium iodide tablets are not a panacea and do not provide 100% protection against radioactive iodine. The CDC warns that one dose only protects the thyroid for 24 hours.
The agency said that taking a higher dose or taking it more often than recommended does not provide more protection and may cause serious illness or death.
The CDC also warns that potassium iodide tablets only protect the thyroid and work best for certain age groups.
Not in stock
Anbex, Inc., based in New York, is a leading supplier and manufacturer of IOSAT Potassium Iodide Tablets, 65mg and 130mg. Her website currently displays the message: “We do not currently have 130mg and 65mg IOSAT Potassium Iodide Tablets in stock.”
“We hope to be back in stock in early April, but we’re looking at the end of March,” said Troy Jones, vice president of sales and marketing at Anbex. Jones also operates the website www.nukepills.com, which sells Anbex potassium iodide tablets.
Jones said the company has seen an influx of orders starting in mid-February for up to 15 million tablets from a variety of buyers, including individuals, resellers, hospitals, municipalities and governments around the world.
“The big circulation started from 23 to 28 February. We sold out everything we had,” Jones said. While stocks are replenished weekly, they sell out just as quickly. “Over the past five days, we have probably sold as much as it usually takes us six months,” he added.
According to Jones, historically demand for potassium iodide spikes when there is a real or perceived threat of nuclear fallout.
The escalating rhetoric from Russia has only heightened concerns and purchases of potassium iodide, manufacturers said.
Anbex, which sells its pills in 14-day or 20-day foil-sealed packages, depending on dosage, has ramped up production, Jones said.
London-based BTG Specialty Pharmaceuticals said it is also experiencing increased demand for the company’s potassium iodide-based products in Europe and the US.
“It coincided with the conflict in Ukraine,” said Chris Sampson, a spokesman for London-based BTG, which also has operations in the US. BTG manufactures Thyrosafe, an FDA-approved over-the-counter 65mg potassium iodide tablet. A box of 20 tablets costs $12.95 on the company’s website.
Sampson said BTG is not completely out of stock, “although we have temporarily stopped taking orders through our own website and some of our partners/distributors were out of stock.”
“Most of our product is sold to governments, health agencies and the military who manage stocks,” he said. “All these orders are being fulfilled.”
The White House could not be contacted for comment on this story.
— Brenda Goodman of CNN contributed to this report.