Popping potassium iodide already? Really bad idea
Poison control centers hear early reports of sickness from preventive pillsAt least seven people have reported reactions to the drug, often called by its chemical name, KI, including two who said they were suffering from serious symptoms including vomiting, racing heart and dizziness or vertigo.
That’s according to Jessica Wehrman, a spokeswoman for the American Association of Poison Control Centers, which tracks reports from 57 poison control centers nationwide.Radiation has not been detected in the U.S., but some worried Americans are already hoarding the pills — and apparently taking them already — as a precaution. Wehrman said poison control centers have received nearly 130 queries about protection against radiation exposure and the crisis in Japan.A text message poll of 98 physicians in California, Oregon and Washington, conducted by Truth On Call for msnbc.com, found that 18 percent of doctors had fielded questions from patients this week about the health impacts of radiation exposure, and two were asked for potassium iodide.Panic could spark a “mini-epidemic” of potassium iodide ingestion and overdoses, predicted Dr. Leonard Wartofsky, spokesman for the Endocrine Society and a thyroid expert.
Story: Brain scan overdose offers glimpse of radiation threatHe warned that the drug could cause serious reactions in some people and even backfire in the case of an actual emergency, putting people past a two-week window of safe dosage. After that period of time, the drug can induce severe hypothyroidism, a condition that essentially shuts down thyroid function.“It is inappropriate, foolhardy and dangerous to be taking iodine supplements at this time,” Wartofsky said. “It’s very important to hold off until it’s absolutely necessary.”Medical and government officials have stressed that the risk of radiation reaching the U.S. is negligible, and that the risk of any health effects is less than that.“There has been no directive from either the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or from state health departments that anyone in the United States during the Japan earthquake or during its aftermath should take potassium iodide,” said Dr. Al Bronstein, medical director at the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center.
Story: Panicked Chinese mistakenly hoarding iodized saltBut that hasn’t stopped Americans from rushing to buy the non-prescription drug that protects the thyroid gland from exposure to radioactive iodine. All three manufacturers and suppliers of federally approved potassium iodide in the United States sold out of the drug earlier this week. New supplies won’t be available until mid-April, said Alan Morris, president of Anbex, Inc., which makes IOSAT 130-milligram tablets.The drug works by filling the thyroid gland with potassium iodide, which leaves no room for the radioactive iodine, which can cause cancer. It does not protect against other effects of radiation exposure.But even if radiation were to reach the U.S., potassium iodide should only be taken in the event of actual exposure or the threat of immediate exposure, not as a preventive measure, Wartofsky said.
Story: Demand for potassium iodide spikes; nukepills.com is thereTroy Jones, who runs the site www.nukepills.com, says he sells about 250,000 doses of potassium iodide most months, both pills and liquid. Demand has spiked in the past during threatening events, but nothing like the response to Japan’s crisis, he said.
Mar 18, 2011
Posted by Alexander Münch at 3/18/2011 09:14:00 AM