Drug Approved for Radiation Exposure

May protect against components of so-called 'dirty bomb'

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THURSDAY, Oct. 2, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Radiogardase, also known as Prussian blue, to treat radiation exposure that stems from harmful levels of cesium-137 or thallium.

While both substances have medical uses in low doses, there is concern they may be used by terrorists in a so-called "dirty bomb" -- involving use of a conventional explosive that contains radioactive material. Although such a device is not considered a nuclear weapon, it could be used to spread harmful radioactive material over a wide area.

Radiogardase works by increasing the rate of elimination of these substances from the body, the FDA notes in a statement. Possible side effects from the oral drug include constipation and upset stomach.

The agency says the federal government has stockpiled the drug in the event of a terrorist attack or similar emergency.

Here is the FDA Talk Paper describing the drug approval. Visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for more information about cesium-137 or thallium exposure.

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