the last few years, our world has been getting used to different types of crises, such as exotic fruits, graphics cards, or toilet paper, but we are not used to having a crisis on medication. Even most third world countries are equipt with basic medication such as ibuprofen or paracetamol and have backup resources in case of any major crisis. However, in the backstage of this war between Ukraine and Russia, a new crisis had been slowly creating and now has come to the world’s attention.
Anti-radiation medication has been on sale for quite a few years because no one really needed it, but now stocks around the world are being depleted. Don’t think America isn’t fearing a nuclear war, as this crisis is being felt now, especially in North America. Such a crisis hasn’t been seen since the early 1970s when tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States reached a boiling point within the Cold War.
Nuclear Winter and the Crisis of Anti-Rad Meds
This period had been entitled by historians as the “Nuclear Winter” where the highest potential of nuclear war through the Cold war was anticipated. Scientist Carl Sagan had written an article in Parade magazine, using his popularity to raise awareness of potential nuclear war and the sort of new challenges humanity would have to deal with in order to survive.
He made good emphasis on potassium iodine as the best anti-radiation medicine at the time for intoxication from a nuclear fallout that would follow after the nuclear war. This created panic in the world and had many people rush to their nearest chemist to purchase potassium iodine or any kind of anti-radiation medication. Sagan had been heavily criticized for creating panic throughout the world, although his intentions were in the right place.
It is imperative to mention that it was not only Sagan but many other scientists and writers who have contributed to the panic created and towards the crisis of anti-rad medication. Taking into consideration the heavy promotion that was going on with nuclear bunkers and other accessories that would come in handy in case of a nuclear apocalypse, it was no wonder that stocks were already limited before any major panic was created.
As a large portion of the economy at the time was being invested into the military by most countries around the world, there wasn’t a lot of funding to support the production of anti-rad medication, and neither were laws set in place to control people from purchasing such medication in bulk. If you had the money, you could build yourself a house out of meds, but the problem was finding so much stock.
50 years later a new Crisis Emerges
Potassium iodide is sold by multiple pharmaceutical companies around the world in various forms. There are still countries that have not set laws in place stopping people from purchasing large quantities of this medication. In the United States, those with a more capitalistic mindset are starting to profit off this crisis, by selling potassium iodine tables for up to 50 times the retail price before the crisis.
These people are using various means such as eBay to sell this medication, where you are not really required to have a license for this type of medication. Seling a box of IOSAT potassium iodide tablets for $1,000 should raise some red flags.
It is not just the high selling price, but many distributors and chemists around the world that are being overwhelmed with the high demand and who are constantly asked for this medication. CNN has been the first to raise some flags about this “potential crisis” and also presenting exclusive information from the CDC, mentioning that taking larger doses of anti-radiation medication won’t offer more protection and it could actually cause severe illness or death.
Some people have been caught on eBay selling expired tables at very cheap prices. Despite the rumors saying that the medication is still fine even after its expiration date, it is illegal to sell expired medication. Health manufacturers have not seen such a high demand for this type of medication since the 1970s when the last crisis occurred during the nuclear winter. the only problem is that crises seem to be at a much larger scale due to a much higher demand created via the internet.
The internet has not only been a host for creating demand but the main incriminator through the use of social media for creating panic. The large amount of propaganda that has littered the news is simply at a new historical level and it seems that some news agencies are going over the top without being stopped.
Things are not very different within Europe as UK manufacturer Oxford Health Company had a 15,000% increase in their page views for its potassium iodine tables in March. representant Pete Burrows from Oxford Health Company had mentioned that the interest in such medication is much higher in neighboring countries of Ukraine.
“The interest in the UK has obviously been increased but the bulk of the interest has been from European countries, especially ones nearer to the conflict.” (Quote by Pete Burrows)
It seems that people are acknowledging the potential of a nuclear war, especially as Russia has started to lose ground within this war. If Russia is left without an option, Putin may be pushed towards a nuclear war. However, he probably takes into consideration the sort of damage it would have upon humanity.