US stockpiles drug used in nuclear, radiological emergencies

Health

A sign warning of radioactive materials is seen on a fence around a nuclear reactor containment building on Monday, April 26, 2021, a few days before it stopped generating electricity at Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, N.Y.

(NEXSTAR) — The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says it has spent $290 million on a drug to treat radiation sickness in the event of a nuclear emergency. 

The HHS Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response announced in a Tuesday release that it bought the drug Nplate from Amgen USA Inc. “as part of long-standing, ongoing efforts to be better prepared to save lives following radiological and nuclear emergencies.” 

Acute Radiation Syndrome, caused by exposure to a high dose of radiation, can cause a range of symptoms. Severe cases can wreak devastating effects on the body, including destruction of bone marrow and internal bleeding, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

Nplate, which can be used for both adults and children, is aimed at reducing the uncontrolled bleeding often caused by radiation. 

The Food and Drug Administration first approved the drug in 2008 to combat an autoimmune disorder that caused serious bleeding and extended another approval in January of last year for use of the drug as a radiation sickness treatment. 

The new purchase follows growing international concern over the potential use of nuclear weapons in Russia’s war on Ukraine.  

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently threatened that his country would take every necessary action to claim victory and would not hesitate to deploy nuclear weapons.  

Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv is readying evacuation centers with potassium iodine pills, which can help against radiation absorption, prepping for a potential nuclear attack on the city.  

U.S. officials have asserted that Washington would take decisive action if Russia moves to use nuclear weapons and warned of heavy consequences for Putin.

United Nations Secretary-General AntĂłnio Guterres last month called for “the era of nuclear blackmail” and the global elimination of nuclear weapons in order to prevent “humanitarian Armageddon.”

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