Why is potassium iodide drug suddenly in high demand

As Russia’s attack on Ukraine intensifies, concerns about fallout from accidental or intentional attacks on Ukraine’s nuclear plants, or from the use of nuclear bombs, have increased demand. about potassium iodide.

In such a case, there is a frightening risk that large amounts of radioactive (or radioactive) iodine released into the atmosphere could be inhaled into the lungs as well as contaminate water, soil, plants and animals. , according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although potassium iodide itself is not harmful and is an important chemical needed by the human body, the CDC says radioactive iodine can harm the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck that produces many hormones regulate the human body.

The danger is that if exposed to radiation, the thyroid gland cannot distinguish between normal and radioactive iodine and will absorb both. 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 the thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive iodine.


Major producers of potassium iodide approved for sale in the United Sates have seen their inventories rapidly deplete in recent weeks, coinciding with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

When the supply in the market dried up, a price cut appeared.

On eBay, four boxes of Thyrosafe potassium iodide tablets were listed for $132.50 on Monday. Another listing for a box of 130 mg IOSAT pills sells for $89.95 each. A box of 14 IOSAT tablets, made by Anbex, sells for $13.99 on the manufacturer’s website.

Also be aware that potassium iodide pills are not a cure-all and do not provide 100% protection against radioactive iodine. The CDC warns that a single dose will protect the thyroid gland for only 24 hours.

The agency said taking higher or more frequent doses than recommended would not provide greater protection and could cause serious illness or death.

The CDC also warns that potassium iodide only protects the thyroid gland and works best for certain age groups.


Anbex, Inc., headquartered in New York, is a leading supplier and manufacturer of Potassium Iodine 65 mg and 130 mg IOSAT tablets. Its website is currently showing a message “We are currently out of stock of IOSAT potassium iodide tablets 130mg and 65mg”.

“We expect to be back in stock in early April but we’re pushing through the end of March,” said Troy Jones, vice president of sales and marketing at Anbex. Jones also runs a website that sells Anbex’s potassium iodide drug.

Jones said the company saw a rush of orders starting mid-February, amounting to 15 million tablets from multiple buyers, including individuals, resellers, hospitals, municipalities, and governments. government worldwide.

“The big run ran from February 23 to February 28. We sold out of inventory,” Jones said. Although supplies are being replenished weekly, they still sell out quickly. “In the last five days, we could have sold as much as we normally would in half a year,” he added.

The timeline, Jones said, coincides with reports last month that Russian forces had taken control of Ukraine’s Chornobyl nuclear power plant. The plant’s electrical system was damaged during the attack and needed repair.

Historically, demand for potassium iodide spikes when there is an actual or perceived threat of nuclear fallout, Jones said.

Demand spiked when former US President Donald Trump tweeted in 2018 that he had a button “much bigger and stronger” than North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, stoking fears of a threat. nuclear war escalates. It also occurred the same year when the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency sent out a false ballistic missile alert.

And just last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had ordered the country’s deterrence forces – including nuclear weapons – to be on high alert. The White House reacted to the move, calling it part of a broader pattern of unprovoked escalation and a “made-up threat” from the Kremlin.

The increasingly escalating rhetoric from Russia has only added to anxiety – and the purchase of potassium iodide, the manufacturers said.

Mr. Jones said that Abex, which sells its tablets for 14 days or 20 days depending on the dosage, has ramped up production.

He said consumers should follow CDC guidance and take potassium iodide pills only on the advice of health officials.

London-based BTG Specialty Pharmaceuticals says it is also experiencing increased demand for the company’s potassium iodide products across Europe and the US.

“This coincides with the conflict in Ukraine,” said Chris Sampson, a spokesman for the London-based BTG, which also has US operations. BTG manufactures Thyrosafe, an FDA-approved over-the-counter 65 mg potassium iodide tablet. A box of 20 tablets costs $12.95 on the company’s website.

Sampson said BTG is still not completely out of stock, “although we have temporarily stopped taking orders through our own website and some of our partners/distributors are out of stock.”

“Most of our products are sold to governments, public health agencies and the military, who manage stockpiles,” he said. “All those orders are being fulfilled.”

The White House could not be immediately reached for comment for this story.

– CNN’s Brenda Goodman contributed to this report


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