We’re all gonna die: GovExec.com reported yesterday that the Health and Human Services Department has awarded a Project Bioshield contract for two radiological countermeasures. Remember Project Bioshield? Herr Prez mentioned it in his 2003 State of the Union speech and Congress passed the bill in 2004. The PB supposedly “provides new tools to improve medical countermeasures protecting Americans against a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attack.”
Specifically, HHS is spending $21.9 million on a five-year contract awarded to Akorn Inc., which is expected to deliver 390,000 doses of Ca-DTPA (Pentetate Calcium Trisodium Injection Sterile Solution) and 60,000 doses of its Zn-DTPA (Pentetate Zinc Trisodium Injection Sterile Solution). Hameln Pharmaceuticals GmbH of Hameln, Germany, developed the drugs.
The Federal Drug Administration approved the drugs for treatment of acute radiation exposure in 2004. According to the FDA, they are appropriate for very specific contamination situations:
Until today, there had been no approved drug products for the treatment of internal contamination with plutonium, americium, or curium.Remember the old days of duck and cover? I do, along with the recurring nightmares of nuclear annihilation that were my childhood companions.
Internal contamination with plutonium, americium, or curium can occur through a variety of routes including ingestion, inhalation, or direct contact through wounds. The goal of treatment with Ca-DTPA and Zn-DTPA is to enhance the removal of these radioactive contaminants and therefore the risk of possible future biological effects including the development of certain cancers, which may occur years after exposure.
Release of plutonium, americium and curium could occur from laboratory or industrial accidents; or through terrorist attacks using a radiation dispersal device (RDD), commonly known as a “dirty bomb.”
This is just a small part of Project Bioshield, which also calls for stockpiling the following:
- 75 million doses of a second generation anthrax vaccine that was supposed to become available for stockpiling beginning in 2005.
- New medical treatments for anthrax directed at neutralizing the effects of anthrax toxin.
- Polyvalent botulinum antitoxin.
- A safer second generation smallpox vaccine.