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.’”

emccracken@vicnews.com

 

Just Posted

Spring break nature walks – get the kids out into nature!

Spring break, CRD Regional Parks naturalists are hosting three guided nature walks

Victoria police search for missing man, his vehicle and travel trailer

Last seen on March 17 driving white Honda Ridgeline bearing B.C. licence plate CG 4316

Red-tailed hawk’s own bill is killing him

‘Most birds with this syndrome will starve to death without treatment’

Sidney business organization cyber attacked

President’s contact list sent unsolicited messages

VIDEO: Can you believe it? This B.C. hill pulls cars backwards up a slope

Sir Isaac Newton had clearly never been to this Vernon anomaly when he discovered gravity

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

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

View Royal council to discuss proposed 3.5% tax increase tonight

Budget open house to directly precede the council meeting

Couple rescued after Sea to Sky Gondola refused ride down hill

‘We were cold as hell, my lips were blue. I cried the entire way down’

Having phone within sight while driving does not violate law: B.C. judge

The mere presence of a cell phone within sight of a driver is not enough for a conviction, judge says

B.C. man sentenced for tying up, assaulting and robbing another man at hotel

Gabriel Stephen Nelson robbed and assaulted travelling businessman in Nanaimo in 2017

B.C. girl and her toy monkey make videos to fight negativity on Facebook

Ava Ast created the Ava and Cello’s Good Deed Page last month

Deadline extended through April to nominate top B.C. educators

Second year of Premier John Horgan’s awards offers $3,000 bursary

Most Read