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Potassium Iodide demanded worldwide

Roz Zurko's picture

With a nuclear crisis looming in Japan, the iodine supplement pills and Thyroid medication have become demanded commodities, despite CDC acknowledgment that it only protects against one narrow threat from radiation.

As with anything, supply in demand has pushed the cost of the iodine pill into an astronomical price bracket with online auctions. This is not just in Japan, the US, Canada, and many other countries are experiencing this today. The run for this pill is on, with reports from countries no where near Japan seeing a rush from its citizens to get this product. Supplies are low and getting lower, with many suppliers already reporting they have exhausted their inventory.

The Internet has played an amazing part in putting people in touch with one another after Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, but now it is playing a part in a darker side of the aftermath of this catastrophe. Iodine pills online are up for bid and going for as much as $540 a packet. The packet contains 14 pills, and its usual cost is about $10 a packet, according to CNN News this morning.

As of this morning, CNN reports that the wind change has the radiation heading towards Tokyo, according to the experts tracking the radiation.

With 127 million people in the country of Japan, which is smaller in area than the state of California, there is not enough of the iodine pills to go around. The suppliers of these pills report that getting the shipments of iodine to the area is hampered by the condition of the roads, railways, and airports. One major supplier, Anbex, is out of stock and will not have more of these pills manufactured and ready for shipment until April 18th. This is not a pill most pharmacies and hospitals keep in stock and it is an over the counter drug, according to The Wall Street Journal.

It is not only Japan were the rush is on to obtain iodine pills, other countries, such as Russia, is seeing residents buying up the iodine pills. This morning the CBC is reporting that “British Columbians spooked by ongoing explosions at Japan’s power plants has prompted a run on pharmacies, in hopes of boosting immunity to any potential radiation drift.” The government and health officials are encouraging people to stand down from stock piling the potassium iodide, saying no health risks exist.

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that Americans are seeking out the iodine pill as the danger in Japan grows at the nuclear reactor and more radiation has been released.

Anbex Inc, was getting three orders a minute for the $10 packets of it’s Losat pills. The sales in the past for the iodine pill was maybe three orders a week during one of their slower sales times. The callers looking to purchase these pills, many from the West Coast, are fearful of the radiation cloud hitting California, according to a spokesperson of that company. Orders are also coming in from hospitals and pharmacies.

With the radiation cloud being tracked and the nuclear reactors unstable, the iodine pill is seen as the biggest safe guard against nuclear radiation, besides evacuating the area of the radioactivity. The shortage of iodine pills has now prompted another rush for the iodine solution that is used for cleaning cuts and scrapes.

A text message making its way around China, Hong Kong, and the Philippines says that if you paint your neck and private parts with this solution, this will offer some protection for your body not to absorb the radiation. The Malaysian health minister, Liow Tiong Lai, has called this warning “nonsense,” according to the ABC CBN

According to CNN if the nuclear reactor does have a complete meltdown, that radiation can drift anywhere in the world.

CNN is reporting this morning that “the risk is thought to be low that radiation released in Japan will reach the US.”

“The iodine pill is potassium iodide which is a salt that stops the body from taking in radioactive iodine that can be omitted during a nuclear emergency. It fills up the thyroid gland, preventing it from collecting the radioactive material which in turn reduces the risk of cancer, among other radiation affects,” according to the WSJ.

However, the panic over KI, as it is known, fails to note that iodine only protects the thyroid, and only against one threat. The CDC has said that it only protects the thyroid gland, and only against radioactive iodine, so they warn it is not a cure-all for radiation.

Image source: Wikipedia

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