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FDA OKs 'Dirty Bomb' Treatments

Demonstrators protest against the Iranian government outside the Iranian Embassy in Stockholm, Tuesday, June 23, 2009.
AP Photo/Christine Olsson, Scanpix
The Food and Drug Administration approved two new products Wednesday designed to help deal with the consequences of terrorists using dirty bombs.

Acting FDA Commissioner Lester M. Crawford says the products, to be available by prescription only, are designed to speed up elimination of radiation from the body.

The newly approved products, both administered by injection, are penetate calcium trisodium (Ca-DTPA) and penetate zinc trisodium injection (Zn-DTPA).

Dirty bombs have become an increasing concern. Unlike warheads designed to kill and destroy through a huge nuclear blast and heat, so-called dirty bombs are radiation weapons. They would rely on conventional explosives to blow radioactive material far and wide. A successful bomb could make a section of a city uninhabitable for years.

The agency said the goal is to provide protection from both nuclear accidents and threats. It said the two drugs are safe and effective for treating contamination from the elements plutonium, americium or curium.

The FDA said that while these drugs have been in use on an experimental basis for several years, until this action there have been no approved drugs for treatment of internal contamination by the three radioactive elements.

Plutonium, americium or curium can enter the body through a variety of routes including ingestion, inhalation or direct contact through wounds. By removing them quickly the victim may avoid possible future effects including the development of certain cancers, which may occur years after exposure.