Radiation fears swamp Victoria pharmacies

Amidst fears that radiation from Japan will make its way to B.C., Victoria pharmacies have been inundated with requests for an over-the-counter radiation-protection medication.

Pharmacist Jonathan Cox shows off a potassium iodide capsule at Aaronson's Pharmacy. The pills can be used to ward off the effects of radiation.

Amidst fears that radiation from Japan will make its way to B.C., Victoria pharmacies have been inundated with requests for an over-the-counter radiation-protection medication.

A number of Victoria residents are in hot pursuit of potassium iodide tablets. The drug protects the thyroid gland from exposure to radioactive particles, but won’t protect the rest of the body, according to Health Canada.

Pharmacist Jonathan Cox rarely gets requests for the pills at Aaronson’s Pharmacy, which carries the medicine. That changed last week when he was flooded with demands for the drug.

“It almost seems a bit hysterical,” hesaid. “It ranges from mild concern to immediate panic that B.C. and half of Alberta will be wiped out of all natural vegetation.”

Although potassium iodide is not a prescription drug, Cox is assessing each request on an individual basis before selling it. A few customers want to send it to friends and family in Japan.

“I’m not sure the general public knows that it only protects the thyroid gland (from radiation),” Cox explained, adding that potassium iodide can result in severe allergic reactions and even sicken the thyroid.

B.C.’s Ministry of Health is urging pharmacies not to unduly sell or stockpile potassium iodide, which Health Canada says is already creating shortages, potentially impacting people who legitimately need the medication.

“Based on present information, we do not expect any health risk following the nuclear reactor releases in Japan, nor is the consumption of potassium iodide tablets a necessary precaution,” B.C. provincial health officer, Dr. Perry Kendall said.

“Even if radiation from Japan ever made it to British Columbia, our prediction based on current information, is that it would not pose any significant health risk.”

Despite assurances from health officials that Canadians are not at risk, “a lot of people are very worried,” said Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy technician Kelsey Heath.

The Douglas Street store doesn’t sell the drug, but recently began providing potassium iodide information leaflets for customers to save time.

“We get at least 100 (inquiries) every day,” Heath said of the medication she says costs about $80 for 100 tablets. “It was so bad we started a daily tally.

“Even if we say we don’t have any, they get really mad (and say) ‘Oh, the government is conspiring against us.’”



Just Posted

French Open at Bear Mountain serves a winner

The US Open is scheduled for Sept. 3 to 8 on the hardcourts at Henderson Park in Oak Bay

Union Club of B.C. votes in its first female president

16-year member Grace Van den Brink previously served as vice president

Alzheimer Society calls for helpline volunteers in Greater Victoria

Charity is in ‘urgent need’ as calls on the rise

$11 million overdraw for McKenzie Interchange construction

The project has been delayed multiple times and is now estimating a budget of $96 million

Saanich jam stand at the centre of controversy prepares to close

Staff review of roadside stand legislation too late for Little

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support the government’s decision to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion?

The federal government announced Tuesday its approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline… Continue reading

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Horgan says he’ll still defend B.C. coast after second Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, one B.C. First Nation has announced plans for a legal challenge

VIDEO: Firefighters stop blaze from spreading after BMW crashes at Saratoga Speedway

Victoria-based businessmen were ‘corner training’ on Father’s Day when incident took place

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Grieving B.C. mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

Ginger Goodwin’s Cumberland cemetery grave desecrated

Just days before the Miners Memorial weekend, Ginger Goodwin’s grave has been… Continue reading

Most Read