Home Radiation Why the U.S. purchase of radiation sickness drug Nplate is no cause for alarm

Why the U.S. purchase of radiation sickness drug Nplate is no cause for alarm


Amid concerns over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent nuclear threats, startling news has emerged: the US Department of Health and Human Services said on Tuesday it has spent $290 million on a drug to treat heart disease. rays.

The department said in a statement that the purchase of the drug, called Nplate, is part of its “longstanding and ongoing Strategic Preparedness and Response Administration efforts to better prepare the United States for potential impacts on health from a wide range of national security threats”.

In other words, despite President Joe Biden’s warning that the risk of nuclear ‘Armageddon’ is the highest since the Cuban Missile Crisis, the purchase of the radiation sickness drug is a coincidence, according to the HHS.

Nplate, made by US drugmaker Amgen, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2021 to treat injuries caused by acute radiation sickness, also known as radiation sickness. (It was also approved in 2008 to treat an autoimmune disease that causes excessive bleeding.)

HHS has not commented on when the decision to order the drug was made or whether it predated Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, but it did note that the department had begun supporting development of the drug. drug in 2019 after prior involvement by the National Institutes of Health.

Amgen will maintain supply of the drug, an approach that HHS says reduces costs to taxpayers and allows the drug to be used in the commercial market before it expires.

Chris Meekins, former deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS, said he saw no reason to worry about the purchase.

This is because, he said, the $290 million purchase of Nplate is equivalent to about 50,000 treatments of the drug, less than the amount he would expect the United States to buy. if the country was close to a nuclear war with Russia.

“It’s not a lot of product,” he said. “I would expect a larger purchase if it was in response to something happening there that forces them to have enough for the United States and give to partners overseas.”

Nplate would not be the ideal drug to use for a widespread nuclear event, he added.

The drug must be used within 24 hours of exposure, he said, although the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, recommends that people stay indoors for at least 24 hours afterwards. a nuclear explosion.

“We need products that can be used longer,” he said.

Greg Burel, the former director of the Strategic National Stockpile, agrees, saying he doesn’t believe HHS’ purchase of the drug is linked to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.

Still, Meekins said government procurement amid the Russian conflict is worth watching.

“Ultimately, we monitor everything, but that shouldn’t be used as a data point to assume there’s a bigger threat than people anticipate,” he said.

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