SNM has 'serious concerns' over isotope situation

SNM president Robert W. Atcher, Ph.D., said the Reston, VA-based organization has "serious concerns" over the recent shutdown of a medical isotope-producing nuclear reactor in the Netherlands, and he urged more action to ensure an adequate worldwide supply.

The temporary closure at the High Flux Reactor in Petten for repairs follows a similar situation last December, when Atomic Energy of Canada's (AECL) National Research Universal reactor in Chalk River, Ontario, went offline. The nuclear facility at Petten produces molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), the most widely used isotope in nuclear medicine.

In a prepared statement, Atcher, who also serves as the emerging medical technology team leader at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, said the "combination of anticipated outages at other production reactors, coupled with unanticipated shutdowns, is simply devastating. The impact on the patients who are in need of diagnostic tests using these radioisotopes is very serious."

He warned that the U.S. and other countries remain unprepared to deal adequately with the current tenuous supply of medical isotopes, adding that healthcare providers "simply cannot afford to sit and wait as the situation continues to worsen.... This could be described as a perfect storm in isotope availability."

SNM currently is working with partners from other molecular imaging and healthcare organizations to identify and implement potential solutions to strengthen the worldwide isotope supply.

Related Reading

AECL monitors isotope supply after Dutch shutdown, August 26, 2008

SNM draft report shows U.S. Mo-99 production years away, July 22, 2008

MDS sues AECL for $1.6 billion over Maple reactors, July 9, 2008

SNM cites regulatory, reimbursement, and research as top priorities, June 18, 2008

MDS to press AECL on Chalk River reactors, June 6, 2008

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