The U.S. State Department has been warning Russia against using nuclear weapons in its increasingly troublesome war with Ukraine, but the Department of Health and Human Services is apparently preparing for just that possibility.
HHS issued a news release Tuesday stating that it was purchasing $290 million worth of Nplate, a drug used in the civilian market to treat patients with thrombocytopenia, a sometimes life-threatening blood disorder that occurs when a patient’s blood platelet count falls below 150,000 per microliter, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Nplate has another use, however: It’s used to treat patients who have been exposed to radiation.
“As part of long-standing, ongoing efforts to be better prepared to save lives following radiological and nuclear emergencies, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is purchasing a supply of the drug Nplate from Amgen USA Inc,” the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response stated in the release. “Nplate is approved to treat blood cell injuries that accompany acute radiation syndrome in adult and pediatric patients.”
ASPR said that its actions were consistent with the Project Bioshield Act of 2004 — nothing to see here, folks. This has been going on for 18 years. Go about your business.
And, sure, maybe that’s true. You don’t have to work too hard to convince me that some federal bureaucrats are spending nearly a third of a billion dollars for practically any reason — or none.
But even though ASPR said nothing about the reasoning behind the purchase or its timing, the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been rattling his nuclear saber more loudly than usual recently hasn’t escaped observation by industry observers like Fierce Pharma.
Is Putin going to nuke Ukraine? Experts are divided, but one doesn’t generally irradiate territory one wishes to occupy, so maybe not. Is he going to nuke the U.S. to get us to stop supporting Ukraine? My Magic 8 Ball says, “Very doubtful.”
But should the U.S. be prepared in case he does — or someone does? Of course we should, especially if we can obtain a decent supply of the necessary drugs at reasonable cost.
That, of course, is the issue — ASPR said they bought the stuff, and they said how much they’re paying for it, but they didn’t say how much they were getting at that price.
Enough for every man, woman and child in America? Probably not. Enough to treat a major city’s population after a nuclear detonation? More likely.
But for all we know, they bought only enough for President Joe Biden, Willow the White House cat, and the head of the ASPR, leaving the rest of us up a gum tree without a paddle in case worse comes to worst. And that’s assuming Hunter doesn’t find the stash first, because in that event, who knows what might happen to it? If there’s a drug Hunter Biden doesn’t like, I’m not sure he’s met it yet.
At any rate, a little more transparency would be nice. What’s the threat? How likely is that threat? Do you have adequate supply to meet that threat?
Maybe ASPR doesn’t know.
Maybe they do know but they aren’t telling us.
I’m not sure which of those options I prefer.
At any rate, the entire news release from ASPR appears below:
HHS purchases drug for use in radiological and nuclear emergencies
As part of long-standing, ongoing efforts to be better prepared to save lives following radiological and nuclear emergencies, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is purchasing a supply of the drug Nplate from Amgen USA Inc; Nplate is approved to treat blood cell injuries that accompany acute radiation syndrome in adult and pediatric patients (ARS).
Amgen, based in Thousands Oaks, California, developed Nplate for ARS with support from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the HHS Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), as well as the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.
BARDA is using its authority provided under the 2004 Project Bioshield Act and $290 million in Project BioShield designated funding to purchase this supply of the drug. Amgen will maintain this supply in vendor-managed inventory. This approach decreases life-cycle management costs for taxpayers because doses that near expiration can be rotated into the commercial market for rapid use prior to expiry and new doses can be added to the government supply.
ARS, also known as radiation sickness, occurs when a person’s entire body is exposed to a high dose of penetrating radiation, reaching internal organs in a matter of seconds. Symptoms of ARS injuries include impaired blood clotting as a result of low platelet counts, which can lead to uncontrolled and life-threatening bleeding.
To reduce radiation-induced bleeding, Nplate stimulates the body’s production of platelets. The drug can be used to treat adults and children.
Nplate is also approved for adult and pediatric patients with immune thrombocytopenia, a blood disorder resulting in low platelet counts. Repurposing drugs for acute radiation syndrome that also are approved for a commercial indication helps to sustain availability of the product and improves healthcare provider familiarity with the drug.
About HHS, ASPR, and BARDA: HHS works to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans, providing for effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services. ASPR leads HHS in preparing the nation to respond to and recover from adverse health effects of emergencies, supporting communities’ ability to withstand adversity, strengthening health and response systems, and enhancing national health security. Within ASPR, BARDA invests in the innovation, advanced research and development, acquisition, and manufacturing of medical countermeasures – vaccines, drugs, therapeutics, diagnostic tools, and non-pharmaceutical products – needed to combat health security threats. To learn more, visit medicalcountermeasures.gov.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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