The French government has authorized hospitals and medical centers to distribute an antidote to deadly nerve gas in the wake of terrorist attacks on Friday that left at least 129 dead in Paris, the Globe and Mail reported. A decree published in the French Official Gazette two days after the attacks determined that the antidote, in the form of atropine sulfate injections made by the military’s central pharmacy, should be released in case a “potentially large numbers of victims” become exposed to the poison gas.
“The risk of terrorist attacks and the risk of exposure to neurotoxic organophosphates are serious health risks that require urgent measures,” Benoît Vallet, the director-general of social affairs, said in the decree.
Atropine is typically administered to patients who are exposed to nerve agents like sarin gas, which is suspected to have been used in the Syrian civil war by rebel forces since at least 2012. Sarin gas blocks victims’ nerves from breaking down acetylcholine molecules, causing a buildup that leads to convulsions, foaming mouths, pinpoint pupils and respiratory failure. The antidote atropine combats the symptoms by blocking the victims’ acetylcholine receptors.
Most cities have emergency stockpiles of atropine in case of chemical attacks, Popular Mechanics reported.
The French decree coincides with the start of the Paris climate summit running from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, that involves 120 heads of state and approximately 40,000 delegates.
France has implemented other heightened security measures as well, such as mobilizing hundreds of thousands of security personnel and invoking the European Union’s mutual defense clause for the 28 member states to provide “mutual aid and assistance.” France closed its borders immediately after the attacks on Friday and installed security gates in all of the country’s railway stations.