The Biden administration is spending $290 million to purchase a drug supply to treat radiation sickness, the Department of Health and Human Services announced.
The acquisition comes at a time when Russian President Vladimir Putin is threatening to use nuclear weapons during his country's war in Ukraine.
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Putin late last month warned the West that he isn't bluffing over his threat. President Joe Biden at a New York fundraiser said the U.S. faces the worst nuclear threat since the Cuban missile crisis.
The HHS purchase parallels state and local governments as they have begun public awareness campaigns alerting citizens to the dangers of nuclear fallout and how to react to such an emergency.
The purchase of the drug Nplate from Amgen USA Inc. is not connected necessarily to Putin's threats, an HHS spokesperson said.
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"This purchase is part of long-standing, ongoing efforts by the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) to better prepare the U.S. for the potential health impacts of a wide range of threats to national security including chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, pandemic and emerging infectious diseases," an HHS spokesman said.
The purchase was made in the HHS’ Project BioShield, which develops drugs and vaccines to counter threats and then stockpiles them for national preparedness.
HHS said Nplate, purchased by BARDA for $290 million in Project BioShield-designated funding, will maintain the drug supply in vendor-managed inventory.
"Under Project BioShield contracts, ASPR's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority [BARDA] supports development of diagnostics, vaccines, and treatments to respond to the potential health impacts of such threats, and when development is successful, purchases the products for national preparedness."
HHS said Nplate, purchased by BARDA for $290 million in Project BioShield designated funding, will maintain the drug supply in vendor-managed inventory.
Nplate is approved to treat blood cell injuries that accompany acute radiation syndrome (ARS), otherwise known as radiation sickness.
ARS 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.
Nuclear ramifications in Ukraine became a heightened issue late last month when a Russian missile blasted a crater close to a nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, damaging nearby industrial equipment but not hitting its three reactors. Ukrainian authorities denounced the move as an act of "nuclear terrorism."
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