WHO provides a list of new drugs, and policy recommendations for a nuclear emergency

A nuclear power plant in Belgium.

WHO on Friday Issued an updated list of medications It should be stored in case of a radiological and nuclear emergency, along with new policy advice in the event of such an accident.

“Radiological emergency preparedness is consistently reported as the weakest area of ​​preparedness in many countries” 66-page report He said.

This newest report updates the report released more than 15 years ago, in 2007and thus includes a range of new pharmaceutical developments.

“In a radiological emergency, people may be exposed to radiation in doses that range from negligible to life-threatening. Governments need to make treatments available to those in need — quickly,” said Dr. Maria Neira, acting assistant director-general of Healthier Populations.

“It is essential that governments are prepared to protect the health of the population and respond promptly to emergencies. This includes having a ready supply of life-saving medicines that will reduce risks and treat radiation-related injuries.”

Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, added: “This updated Critical Medicines List will be a vital preparedness tool for our partners to identify, procure, stock and deliver timely and effective countermeasures to those at risk or exposed in these events.”

The World Health Organization has indicated that radiological or nuclear emergencies can occur in nuclear power plants, medical or research facilities, or be the result of accidents during the transport of radioactive materials. In addition, these emergencies can be the result of an adverse event, such as a nuclear bombing.

To date, there have been two massive nuclear accidents: the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 by the United States, the consequences of which have been constantly studied. There was also the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine – the largest uncontrolled radioactive release in history.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned this month yet Another Telegram post Russia’s defeat in Ukraine could lead to nuclear war.

Medvedev wrote: “The defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war may lead to a nuclear war.”

Exposure to high doses of radiation may have serious consequences for a person’s health in the long term or lead to immediate or premature death. As such, apart from general supplies and materials used in any type of emergency, stockpiles should include medicines that either prevent or reduce radiation exposure, as explained by the World Health Organization.

Only a handful of recommended medications

There are only a few specific medications that have been shown to be effective in treating radiation overexposure, and they are included in the report. They include: stabilized iodine. Claw sand (Telectronic corporate agents); Cytokines used to mitigate damage to the bone marrow. And medicines to treat vomiting, diarrhea and infections.

“One of the most serious consequences of radiation overexposure is acute radiation syndrome (ARS), which presents as a hematopoietic syndrome.” The latter, also called Bone marrow syndromeIt affects the production of blood cells and, in severe cases of poisoning, can lead to death through infection or bleeding.

The report states that “depending on the severity of exposure may develop such as gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and neurological syndromes”. However, WHO recommendations only include treatments of hematopoietic and gastrointestinal syndromes, “where cardiovascular and neurological syndromes are considered to be irreversible and require only palliative care”.

The WHO report added that blocking agents such as stable iodine can be used to prevent the body from absorbing radionuclides. Other agents such as Prussian blue are applied to remove radioactive cesium from the body. Calcium or zinc Diethylamine pentaacetic acid can treat internal contamination with transuranium radionuclides.

“These and other such items and stockpiles must be made available quickly in the event of a radiological emergency,” the WHO wrote.

Bone marrow syndrome–emerging therapies

In the hematopoietic state, or Bone marrow syndromeRadiation attacks all three blood lineages – white and red blood cells and platelets.

A low white blood cell count weakens the immune system, making the individual vulnerable to infection. explained Yiki Yanai, CEO and frosted head – An Israel-based biotechnology company that is developing placental cell injections to treat ARS.

The treatment has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as an “investigational new drug” (IND) for use in the event of a nuclear accident – although it is not yet mature enough to be considered for the World Health Organization’s list of recommended drugs.

However, the WHO report notes that researchers are making progress developing new treatments, although none have been approved by the WHO for use in nuclear emergencies.

WHO: Inventory based on population size

WHO stressed that a country’s nuclear medicine stockpile should be based on reliable data of national risk profiles, population size and the available resources and capacities of their health system.

Finally, WHO called on national health authorities, healthcare facilities, drug suppliers, logistics, civil defense and emergency services to make use of it in an emergency. These teams must be coordinated in advance to be able to operate effectively in the event of a nuclear accident.

Image credits: Photo by Frederik Poulsen on Unsplash.

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