Price of Potassium Iodide Pills Skyrockets on Nuclear Contamination Fears

Potassium iodide (KI) is recommended during nuclear emergencies because it floods the radioactivity-sensitive thyroid glands with “good” iodine, blocking contaminated iodine from entry. As troubles continue at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, it has had a curious effect on the price of potassium iodide tablets everywhere: Normally $10 for a packet of 14 pills, they’ve been bid up as high as $540 a packet due to fears of nuclear contamination.

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Huliq:

With 127 million people in the country of Japan, which is smaller in area than the state of California, there is not enough of the iodine pills to go around. The suppliers of these pills report that getting the shipments of iodine to the area is hampered by the condition of the roads, railways, and airports. One major supplier, Anbex, is out of stock and will not have more of these pills manufactured and ready for shipment until April 18th. This is not a pill most pharmacies and hospitals keep in stock and it is an over the counter drug, according to The Wall Street Journal.

It is not only Japan were the rush is on to obtain iodine pills, other countries, such as Russia, is seeing residents buying up the iodine pills. This morning the CBC is reporting that “British Columbians spooked by ongoing explosions at Japan’s power plants has prompted a run on pharmacies, in hopes of boosting immunity to any potential radiation drift.” The government and health officials are encouraging people to stand down from stock piling the potassium iodide, saying no health risks exist.

Though the $540/packet figure is definitely on the high end, David Tufte calculates what that means in terms of inflation:

That is a 5,300% increase in the space of 5 days.

Annualized, that is 3 x 10126%.

Yes, that’s scientific notation.

Here’s the rate written out: 2, 915, 710, 944, 820, 310, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000%.

Is this the highest inflation rate ever? ‡

Believe it or not, it is only the penultimate inflation rate.

It’s more digestible to convert this into a daily inflation rate, which would be 122%.

That rate is higher than that in Zimbabwe a few years ago, but it still falls short of Hungary in 1946.

(Huliq via Marginal Revolution.)


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