White House to review thyroid drug move

Dec. 7, 2009 at 10:28 AM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- A Bush administration move dropping plans to stockpile thyroid drugs to protect U.S. nuclear power workers is being re-examined, White House officials say.

A statement issued by the White House indicated it is reviewing "the process used by the prior administration" when it moved in 2007 not to stockpile potassium iodide for nuclear workers who are exposed to radiation in a terrorist incident, The New York Times reported Monday.

The newspaper said a law passed in 2002, shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, instructed the federal government to help states build bigger stocks of potassium iodide. But the law had a loophole allowing the White House to cancel distribution if it found that there was a better way to prevent cancer -- the Bush administration asserted after years of delay that evacuations would be a better alternative, the Times said.

U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., wrote President Barack Obama asking for a review of the law's fate.

Citing the chaos that followed Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Markey wrote, "Despite advanced warning, state and local governments were unable to evacuate effectively, or provide adequate food and water to those who remained behind."

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