Potassium iodide pills, which can act as a protection against the effects of radioactive iodine, are in high demand in the US -especially along the west coast – according to recent reports.

Alan Morris, President of Anbex, a supplier of the pills, said “The spike is enormous … we were out of stock by Friday night.” He told AFP that “The demand mostly is coming from the West Coast of the US, but there are a significant number of inquiries, requests, orders coming from Japan, Korea, all over the Far East.”

The run on potassium iodide pills has prices on the rise. Some sellers on Amazon are asking as much as $399.99 (plus another $5 for shipping) for a pack with 14 tablets. On other sites, they are still listed at prices under $15, however, in a search through common pharmacy websites and other Amazon sellers, Sure Start News found that they were out of stock.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), potassium iodide can prevent the thyroid from absorbing radioactive iodine.

However, the Los Angeles Public Health Department is advising it’s residents to avoid taking potassium iodide at this time. “There is no increased risk of harmful levels of radiation exposure in the United States based on the situation to date at the nuclear power complex in Japan. Residents who ingest potassium iodide out of concern of possible exposure from this situation are doing something which is not only ineffective, but could also cause side effects,” said its director, Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding.