Radiation fear sparks pharmaceutical frenzy in Tucson

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- We might be thousands of miles away, but the threat of radiation in Japan has sparked a pharmaceutical frenzy in Tucson.

Everyday customers come into warehouse vitamins on swan to purchase all sorts of pills.

But ever since the earthquake in japan hit last week, there's one item in particular that's on high demand.

People have been buying up potassium iodine or iodide.  It's an over the counter supplement, used to prevent radiation poisoning of the thyroid.

John Demase says his store has been out of potassium iodide for the past week as Tucson ans fear japan's radiation crisis might spread.  A fear experts say so far is unfounded.

"Right now we recommend nobody in the United States should be taking it," said Keith Boesen from the U of A College of Medicine.

Keith Boesen of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center says besides the unlikelihood of a dangerous level of radiation reaching the U.S., taking potassium iodide when it's not needed can damage the thyroid and have some uncomfortable side effects.

"Some of the minor side effects are usually where you can get some nausea, some vomiting, some discomfort but more concerning than that is that people can have allergic reactions to iodine," said Boesen.

Still, people around Tucson can't get their hands on the pill quick enough.  Some are even using other sources of iodine such as kelp and seaweed to calm their radiation qualms.

Warehouse vitamins isn't sure when their next shipment will arrive.