Pharmacies See Run on Iodine

With worries the nuclear radiation threat in Japan could cross over into the United States, some pharmacies in Texas are selling out of supplements containing iodine. One pharmacist says sales are brisk for people taking them out of Texas. Pat Hernandez has more.

The Japanese government has distributed almost 250-thousand doses of stable iodine to evacuation centers near the crippled Fukishima nuclear power plant. Now there are reports that some pharmacies and stores in Texas
are also seeing brisk sales of supplements containing iodine.

"As a matter of fact, I just had a patient walk through the door, and she bought actually six bottles of the Iodoral, which has not only just iodine, but potassium iodide in it."

Dr. Donna Barsky is a pharmacist in Plano. She says it's not that her customer was afraid of being exposed to radiation here in Texas.

"She is friends with a doctor and his family that live in Vancouver, and he has a large family so what they are doing is they're finding all the potassium iodide that they can to take back with them. Because Vancouver, of course, is at risk right now."

She says as the urgency spreads, she anticipates a lot of places to be out of the product.

"Anything that you can get over the counter is usually lower dose, so people will buy larger quantities, so they'll be cleaning off the shelves to get enough doses to protect themselves."

The iodine pills work by flooding the body with stable iodine, a necessary nutrient. The thyroid gland absorbs this iodine from the pills, and so it can't absorb any radioactive iodine that the body may have picked up from a nuclear accident.  This can help prevent thyroid cancer after radiation exposure.  But the pills only help shield the thyroid from radiation, not any other organs or tissues.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez


Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...