A German company won U.S. approval Thursday of a “dirty bomb” attack antidote — a compound long used as the artist’s pigment Prussian blue.
The Food and Drug Administration had called in January for drug companies to seek permission to manufacture pill forms of Prussian blue, considered for decades a treatment for exposure to certain forms of radioactive cesium and thallium. But until now, national stockpiles of Prussian blue pills have been limited, and bought from overseas.
The FDA’s action Thursday clears a German company to sell its version here, with the brand name Radiogardase, potentially making it easier to stockpile more in case of a terrorist attack.
Radioactive cesium and thallium are commonly used, at low doses, in medical treatment and diagnosis. But high levels can be deadly, and they are among the materials that officials worry might be used in a “dirty bomb” — a device that isn’t nuclear but that uses conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material.
The FDA evaluated reports of Prussian blue’s use after some accidental radioactive exposures. The mineral compound bound to the radioactive chemicals in the gut to speed the body’s elimination of them.
Side effects include constipation and upset stomach.
Radiogardase is made by HEYL Chemisch-pharmazeutische Fabrik GmbH & Co. of Berlin.