Many flock to stock up on potassium iodide - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Many flock to stock up on potassium iodide

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - If you're buying potassium iodide because you think you'll be affected by Japan's radiation, an East Texas doctor says to stop.

Experts say you're actually hurting those that really need the supplement by depleting the already shrinking supply.

Stephenson Pharmacy Tech Nichole Draffen has stashed bottles of potassium iodide in the back for those who actually need the supplement.

"Right now I only have 2 bottles left on my shelf," she said. "So, if I sell to the people who are going on a whim that be affected by this scare then those patients who really need it to protect their thyroid because they have thyroid issues are going to have a problem getting it."

It's a problem experts say could see become full blown. Draffen says those two bottles of potassium iodide might be the last they see for a while.

"They [the wholesalers] just told us that it's on manufacturer backorder and they don't know when it will be available again," said Draffen.

"Purchasing to save it is not going to be that great of a benefit," said UT Health Science Center Dr. of Pharmacy Joe Sartor.

Sartor says those stocking up on iodide out of fear need to stop for the sake of others.

"For one thing they're depleting supplies that we currently have," said Sartor. "If they deplete those supplies and there is a need in areas where there are increased levels of radiation then they're not going to have the potassium to supply to those areas."

He says taking the supplement when you don't need it is risky and could cause long term thyroid problems.

"The least adverse effects are going to be gastrointestinal irritation things like nausea, vomiting," he said. 

While pharmacies fight to keep the supply at hand for those who desperately need it, Sartor hopes people will stop loading-up on the supplement.

"Don't hoard the iodide," said Sartor.

Sartor also warns that excessive doses of iodide can be toxic.

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