Quake Question #13: Are There Any Radiation Drugs Available Beyond Potassium Iodide?

Readers ask: Is the military's drug Rad-X being made available to the people of Japan?

Science answers: Government health clinics in Japan are distributing potassium iodide pills which can help prevent thyroid cancer in nursing mothers and children exposed to radioactive iodine. But besides those pills, there are no drugs currently available to tackle the negative health effects of radiation exposure.

"Rad-X" exists only in the world of the video game Fallout; however, there's a drug called Ex-RAD, developed by Onconova Therapeutics Inc., that is currently being tested as a prophylactic that could be given to first responders in a nuclear attack or to individuals preparing to enter a radioactive site. It's not the only drug though being tried out—CBLB502 has been shown to be effective in mice and monkeys. It may be a while before these drugs go through all of the steps necessary to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

For a complete list of quake questions and answers, see our Quake Questions page. For our complete coverage of the crisis in Japan, see our Japan Earthquake page.