Explained: why potassium iodide pills are needed since the start of the war in Ukraine

The Russia-Ukraine war has been going on for 20 days.

The escalation of the war in Ukraine has led to a sharp rise in demand for potassium iodide pills. The cause of the rise is the fear of radioactive crashes as a result of accidental or deliberate attacks on nuclear power plants in Ukraine.

If this attack occurs, it will release radioactive iodine into the atmosphere, which can be absorbed by the lungs or thyroid glands.

What is Potassium Iodide (KI)?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CC), potassium iodide (pictured as KI) is a stable iodine salt that can help block radioactive iodine absorption, thus protecting this gland from radiation damage.

Such an injury can damage the thyroid gland, which produces many hormones that regulate the body, and can even lead to cancer.

The CDC also said that table salt and iodine-rich foods do not contain enough iodine to prevent radioactive iodine from entering your thyroid gland. It is recommended not to use table salt or KI as a substitute for KI.

How does KI work?

The thyroid gland cannot tell the difference between stable iodine and radioactive. It will absorb both.

According to the CDC, potassium iodide will block radioactive iodine from entering the thyroid. “When a person takes KI, the drug’s stable iodine is absorbed by the thyroid. Because KI contains a lot of stable iodine, the thyroid gland becomes saturated and cannot absorb any more iodine for the next 24 hours,” he added.

Prices are going up

CNN reports that U.S. manufacturers’ inventories have been depleted since the start of the Russian invasion. Then they increased the price of Thyrosafe potassium iodide pills available in the US.

London-based BTG Specialty Pharmaceuticals said the company’s demand for potassium iodide products in the U.S. was also higher, according to CNN.

Buying panic in Europe too

According to a report published in Fortune, some Europeans who are afraid that Russia will escalate its war against Ukraine have started supplying iodine pills.

In Belgium, nearly 30,000 people went to pharmacies to take free pills after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his nuclear deterrent forces on high alert, the Brussels Times reported.

A Bloomberg report said that demand for potassium iodide pills in Finland has increased 100-fold since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war.

When should pills be taken?

Potassium iodide tablets should only be taken when there is a risk of immediate exposure to radiation. The CDC website states that taking a higher dose of KI or taking it more often than recommended does not provide more protection and can result in serious illness or death.


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