Amid considerations about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s current nuclear threats got here a little bit of startling information: The U.S. Division of Well being and Human Companies mentioned Tuesday that it spent $290 million on a drug to deal with radiation illness.
The division mentioned in an announcement that the acquisition of the drug, referred to as Nplate, is a part of its “long-standing, ongoing efforts by the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response to higher put together the U.S. for the potential well being impacts of a variety of threats to nationwide safety.”
In different phrases, regardless of President Joe Biden’s warning that the danger of nuclear “Armageddon” is the very best it has been because the Cuban missile disaster, the acquisition of the drug for radiation illness is coincidental, in keeping with the HHS.
Nplate, manufactured by U.S. drugmaker Amgen, was accredited by the Meals and Drug Administration in 2021 to deal with accidents attributable to acute radiation syndrome, often known as radiation illness. (It was additionally accredited in 2008 to deal with an autoimmune dysfunction that causes extreme bleeding.)
The HHS didn’t touch upon when the choice to order the drug was made or whether or not it predated the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, however it famous that the division started supporting the event of the drug again in 2019 after earlier involvement from the Nationwide Institutes of Well being.
Amgen will preserve the provision of the drug, an method the HHS says lowers prices for taxpayers and permits the drug for use within the industrial market earlier than it expires.
Chris Meekins, former deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS, mentioned that he sees no trigger for alarm over the acquisition.
That’s as a result of, he mentioned, the $290 million buy of Nplate quantities to about 50,000 programs of the drug, lower than the quantity he would count on the U.S. to purchase if the nation have been near a nuclear warfare with Russia.
“It isn’t that a lot product,” he mentioned. “I’d count on a much bigger purchase if this have been in a response to one thing occurring over there that requires them to each have sufficient for the U.S. and for giving to companions abroad.”
Nplate wouldn’t be the perfect treatment to make use of for a widespread nuclear occasion, he added.
The drug must be used inside 24 hours of publicity, he mentioned, although the Federal Emergency Administration Company, or FEMA, recommends that folks keep indoors for a minimum of 24 hours after a nuclear blast.
“We’d like merchandise that can be utilized longer,” he mentioned.
Greg Burel, the previous director of the Strategic Nationwide Stockpile, agreed, saying that he would not assume the HHS’ buy of the drug is expounded to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.
Nonetheless, Meekins mentioned that the federal government’s purchases amid the Russian battle are price watching.
“Backside line, we’re watching all the things, however this shouldn’t be used as an information level to imagine there’s a better risk than individuals anticipate,” he mentioned.
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