This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revealed that an organization under the Biden administration had purchased a medication valued at $290 million that is intended to prevent harmful health effects from nuclear catastrophes, such as a nuclear assault or accident.
The purchase is part of long-standing, ongoing efforts to be better prepared to save lives after radiological and nuclear emergencies, according to a press release from HHS’ Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), though it made no mention of why the supplies were being purchased at this time.
The medication “Nplate” is made by Amgen USA Inc. and is approved to treat blood cell injuries that come along with acute radiation syndrome (ARS) in both adult and pediatric patients. ARS happens when a person’s entire body is exposed to a high dose of penetrating radiation, reaching internal organs in a matter of seconds, which can cause impaired blood clotting due to low platelet counts, which can cause uncontrolled and life-threatening bleeding.
Today, we purchased a supply of @Amgen’s Nplate, a drug to combat the effects of acute radiation sickness after radiological or nuclear emergencies. For more about how we leverage existing technology & inventory management practices to ensure preparedness: https://t.co/bsgRz74Izx pic.twitter.com/hox1yTSpzP— BARDA (@BARDA) October 4, 2022
In order to promote better clotting, reduce radiation-induced bleeding, and hopefully prevent bleeding, Nplate works by increasing a person’s platelet production. Previously, it was developed by Amgen with assistance from the federal government through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases [led by Dr. Anthony Fauci since 1984], part of the National Institutes of Health, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the HHS Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR).
In January 2021, the FDA approved the use of the medication for those who have acute radiation sickness as a result of a nuclear explosion, nuclear reactor accident, radiotherapy mishap, or radioactive waste escape.
The 2004 Project Bioshield Act granted the Biden administration the right to purchase the radiation treatment drug, and $290 million of Project BioShield allocated funding was used to pay for this supply of the medication.