The Czech government has reinforced Czech anti-chemical warfare forces based in Kuwait in order to support possible US-led military action against Iraq, should they get a go-ahead from the United Nations Security Council. In the meantime Czech scientists developed several new antidotes to treat soldiers and civilians in case of a chemical attack.
The department of toxicology at the Military Medical Academy in Hradec Kralove developed several antidotes neutralizing effects of nerve agents - the most important group of chemical warfare agents that includes such substances as Sarin. This nerve gas was used for example in a terrorist attack in the Tokyo metro several years ago. The department supplies the Czech army with two types of medicine against neuro-paralytic weapons. Jiri Bajgar, is the head of the toxicology department at the Military Medical Academy in Hradec Kralove:
"This is exclusively produced for the Czech army but we have some contacts with civilian pharmaceutical facilities for a possibility to use these drugs for civilian use. This is in connection with a possible terrorist attack."
Neuro-paralytic weapons have a very fast effect and cause convulsions and, if not treated, death. Traditionally these symptoms have been treated with atropine. Now soldiers have auto-injectors that contain two types of drugs and are used in order to provide first aid to affected people. Military hospitals have further antidotes, including Czech-developed and produced Chonol 1 and Chonol 2.
The Czech Republic currently has 250 military men in Kuwait. The Czech unit is stationed at the American base 'Camp Dauha' only 100 kilometers from the Iraqi border. The unit is supplied with all latest achievements of Czech scientists.
"This unit is equipped with these drugs. Moreover, they were educated at our department and they know about effects of these nerve agents, they know about possibilities of treatment especially for the first aid and medical doctors in Kuwait are more familiar with therapeutic principles of treatment of intoxication with nerve agents."
Among other anti-chemical drugs developed by the Military Medical Academy in Hradec Kralove is Panpal, a substance used as a preventive drug against effects of chemical weapons. It is administrated per orally and helps an organism develop immunity to nerve agents for 8 hours. Mr. Bajgar stressed that Panpal has no negative side effects. Now the academy is developing Transant, a completely new and unique substance that is administrated through skin. According to Mr. Bajgar, development of one drug takes at least 10 years. The drugs are produced exclusively for the Czech army that will release some of its stocks should civilians need it.