Protective Iodine Pill Distribution Delayed By Government Drug Classification

The new plan to pre-distribute protective iodine pills in Japan to people living near nuclear plants has been held up by an unexpected bit of government red tape. The authority that deals with drug approvals has never approved the “drug” (potassium iodine) for use as a radiation thyroid protection medicine.

Some local governments have gone ahead and stockpiled the drug but there were concerns that doctors could oppose the distribution of the pills. It could also take more than a year for a drug company to obtain the proper approvals, currently no company in Japan has asked for that additional use approval. In many other countries the pills are pre-distributed to the public without problems. Some hand out the pills at public events, others ask residents to keep them on hand and can pick them up for free at a local pharmacy.

During the height of the Fukushima disaster many did not receive protective iodine pills. They were not pre-distributed, there were mixed decisions about giving them or not and in some cases no way to get them to those who needed them.

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