WHO Updates Critical Medicines List for Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies

The World Health Organization (WHO) updated its list of medicines that should be stockpiled for radiological and nuclear emergencies, along with policy advice for their appropriate management.

Prior to this, national governments were guided by WHO guidelines “National Stockpiles for Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies” adopted sixteen years ago in 2007. However, according to the annual report of the WHO Secretariat, many countries still do not have the basic elements of preparedness for radiation emergencies.

The document contains recommendations for the purchase of medicines that can prevent or reduce the absorption of radionuclides or accelerate the elimination of radionuclides from the human body, including:

  • stable iodine administered to prevent or reduce the effects of radioactive iodine on the thyroid gland;
  • chelating agents (e.g. Prussian blue is used to eliminate radioactive cesium from the body, and calcium/zinc DTPA is used to treat internal contamination with transuranium radionuclides);
  • cytokines used to reduce bone marrow damage in acute radiation sickness;
  • other medicines used to treat intoxication and infections.

The document also outlines new treatments and countermeasures that can be used to treat overexposed patients. In particular, studies that identify new cellular and molecular ways and methods of drug administration can be used to develop new treatments and drugs for use during radiation emergencies.

According to the World Health Organization