Fleming Pharmaceuticals, maker of ThyroShield one of two FDA-approved potassium iodide medicines used in nuclear emergencies to block the thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive iodine to avoid thyroid cancer announced on March 15 that it is stepping up production to help provide domestic and global relief.
ThyroShield is an iodide solution which, when taken orally, saturates the thyroid gland so radioactive iodine cannot be absorbed.
"ThyroShield is not routinely stocked in large quantities but we are putting a plan in place that expedites production and delivery," states Phill Dritsas, president of St. Louis, Mo.-based Fleming Pharmaceuticals. "However, in the case of Japan, we simply don't have enough inventory to even begin to fill a need that great and immediate."
Under a 2002 federal law, states and local governments are required to provide potassium iodide medicine for citizens living within 20 miles of any of the 104 U.S. nuclear power plants. To that end, the federal government has stockpiled millions of doses of potassium iodide in liquid and pill form for states and local governments to distribute.
"The scope of the issue goes beyond Japan however," Dritsas explains. "Some Americans on the West Coast are fearful that the radiation from Japan could drift to our shores, although that is not a real threat according to authorities. And of course there is always the possibility of an unrelated leak here on our own soil. The Japan incident has heightened awareness of the dangers of radiation exposure."