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Pharmacists crucial in plan for terrorist chemical weapons
Date:12/9/2011

Anderson explains.

The good news is that there are potential antidotes to these chemical agents, which can save lives if they are used quickly and correctly. Pharmacists need to work in their hospitals to prepare emergency plans, and with the pharmacy and therapeutic committees to stock for a potential chemical accident or terrorist attack. In the US, for example, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains a Strategic National Stockpile of pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and supplies that can be sent in an emergency to any US state within 12 hours.

The threat from chemical agents may appear to be a symptom of our modern society, but the idea has been around since antiquity. Solon of Athens is said to have used hellebore roots (a purgative) to contaminate the water supply in the Pleistrus River during the Siege of Cirrha as long ago as 590 BC. Modern chemical warfare during World War I included the release by German soldiers of 150 tons of chlorine gas near Ypres, Belgium, and phosgene and nitrogen mustard also played a role in the conflict. Choking agents, vesicants, blood agents, and nerve gas joined the range of chemical weapons available by World War II. Even though conflicting nations produced these in large quantities, no major chemical weapon events occurred during World War II.

The Chemical Weapons Convention was finalized in 1993, prohibiting development, production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons. The treaty also mandated weapons destruction. 130 countries signed the convention (excluding Iraq and North Korea).

Although the article is about chemical weapons, Anderson emphasizes that pharmacists can also be a resource for biological, radiological and nuclear attacks as well as natural disasters.


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Contact: Ashley Loar
ashley.loar@sagepub.com
SAGE Publications
Source:Eurekalert

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