Rather ironically, the antidote's name derives from another famously lethal substance. Prussian Blue refers to cyanide (a component of the medication) which can be used to produce a royal blue pigment. Some cyanide formulas are very deadly, notably hydrogen cyanide or potassium cyanide. But mixed into the tidy antidote formula (brand name Radiogardase) cyanide merely becomes part of a chemical chain that wraps itself around thallium, binding it up, and allowing the body to remove the poison.
On February 8, Li, 40, was charged with murdering her husband. She has since pleaded not guilty and is also seeking to have her bail, currently set at more than $4 million reduced.
As news of Li's murder arrest has spread, increasingly the stories have been framed around chemist-as-killer. "Chemist killed her husband with radioactive poison to avoid going through a divorce" was the headline in Britain's Daily Mail. "NJ chemist pleads not guilty to poisoning husband," was a more stately lead in BusinessWeek. And, of course, some of this is just headline writing shorthand for an event.