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From the Vault: News from the Wednesday, Nov. 24, 1982 edition of the Press & Journal

Posted 11/29/17

Radiation protection pills: All they’re advertised to be?

Despite the advertising campaign underway for “radiation protection pills,” some local medical professionals remain unimpressed by …

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From the Vault: News from the Wednesday, Nov. 24, 1982 edition of the Press & Journal


Radiation protection pills: All they’re advertised to be?

Despite the advertising campaign underway for “radiation protection pills,” some local medical professionals remain unimpressed by the product.

The pills, which contain potassium iodide, are being marketed by a New York based firm and are currently available through an advertisement from that company by mail or phone order.

The pills prevent the thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive Iodine 131, which could be released in a nuclear emergency. Headlines in the advertisement claim that the product is “a tablet that could save your life in a nuclear accident.”

Though scientific evidence presented in the ad confirms that potassium iodide may be useful, it is never referred to as a lifesaver. One reference listed, from the New England Journal of Medicine, “recommends it be taken by anyone exposed to radioactive fallout from nuclear bombs.”

Middletown physician Dr. John Barnoski noted that the drug is safe, taken as directed, but that, as with any drug, an overdose could occur if the tablets were taken in large amounts over a long period of time.

Too much iodine in the body can result in iodine toxicity, he explained. The symptoms of iodism include a metallic taste, soreness of the mouth, salivation, sneezing and swelling of the eyelids.

Barnoski warned, however, that while the pills may protect the thyroid from absorbing radioactive iodine and possible resultant cancer, they provide no protection from radiation to other parts of the body. The doctor noted that the pills would be “something nice to have,” and would recommend them to his patients for use in the threat of a nuclear accident.

Pharmacists in the Middletown and Elizabethtown area have yet to stock the pills, or to have even been sent literature about them from drug distributors. Several pharmacists have, however, kept up with the information made available on the product.

“They will eliminate some side effects, but they will not protect you from radiation,” warned Rhoads pharmacist Chuck Kray. The Middletown pharmacy expects to sell the pills in the future.

Pharmacists Mike Boutsas, of Elizabethtown’s Kreamer Pharmacy, and Bob Gordon, of White Shield in Middletown, also said their stores have yet to sell the product.

“If there is a need, a consumer demand, we’ll market them,” Gordon noted, but added, “I don’t think they’re going to provide that much protection.”

Both Kray and Gordon told the Press & Journal that their pharmacies carry a potassium iodide pill which is used for other purposes. Kray noted that the medication is rarely used, but is prescribed in some cases of chronic lung problems to break up extreme or thick secretions.

The pills in stock at Rhoads Pharmacy are produced by the Eli Lilly Co. and cost approximately $5.75 for 100 pills.

Reid joins growing field for Senate

Middletown Mayor Robert Reid recently joined a field of more than 24 persons seeking the state senatorial seat soon to be vacated by George Gekas.

Reid, in a letter to the Dauphin County Republican Committee, asked to be considered by that committee as a candidate for the 15 Senatorial District Seat.

Should Reid receive the backing of the GOP Committee, and be elected to the post, the borough would be in the market for a new mayor.

A special election will be announced by Lt. Gov. William Scranton within 60 days after Gekas resigns. Gekas will assume his new post, representing the 17th Congressional District in Washington, in January 1983.

In a telephone interview with the Press & Journal, Reid outlined the following major concerns he would address as senator:

• Three Mile Island nuclear facilities.

• Development of more and better programs for senior citizens.

• Development of programs to assist students, rather than for use for teacher salary increases.

• Aid the development of the state’s suffering steel and coal industries.

• Help in the reduction of crime by making matters more difficult for perpetrators.

Reid added that he is outspoken, and would continue to be, “not in a radical way but as a voice for the people as I always have been since I was an elected official.”

The 50-year-old candidate is a school teacher in the Middletown Area School District, as well as mayor of the borough, a position he has held for five years. Reid lives in Middletown with his wife, Priscilla, and their three children.

Trimmed budget could hold tax line for 1983

At a time when most people are deciding how to budget holiday spending, Middletown officials are tackling a much larger financial problem — the borough’s 1983 budget.

As a result of many working sessions, a tentative budget has been written and will be presented for public comment at a hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 29, in the Borough Council chambers.

Total expenditures figured in the tentative budget amount to $3,075,625. That total is $232,775 less than the total expenditure budgeted in 1982. The decrease in spending is coupled with neither a tax increase nor an electric rate increase.

Headlines from the edition

• Middletown Authority OKs bid for new water tank

• Raider basketball coach eyes a year of rebuilding for team

• Visitor 20,000 takes tour of TMI

Hot buys

• Service specials: Pennsylvania inspection, $8.95. Oil and filter change, $12.95. Sun diagnostic check, $11.99. Harry Cramer Inc., 1998 W. Harrisburg Pike, Middletown.

• Colonial sofa and chair, $399. Six-piece dining room set, $899. Furniture Unlimited, Tri-State Bazaar, Olmsted Plaza, Middletown.

• One-pound crab legs dinner, $6.50. Sunburst, Route 230, between Highspire and Middletown.