Canadian health minister meets SNM execs

2009 06 14 22 07 54 481 2009 6 15 Aglukkaq

TORONTO - Canada's Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq told SNM leadership that the country wants to work with them to help solve the issue of reoccurring medical isotope shortages.

Aglukkaq met with SNM executives for about 30 minutes Sunday afternoon during the first day of the organization's annual meeting.

2009 06 14 22 07 54 481 2009 6 15 Aglukkaq
Canada's Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq listens to concerns from SNM's leadership over the current medical isotope shortage.

As Health Canada's administrator, one of her responsibilities is to coordinate information from the provinces and territories as they deal with the current medical isotope shortage. "We also have a regulatory role approving all the alternatives" to medical isotope imaging procedures, Aglukkaq said in an interview with

The current North American medical isotope shortage stems from last month's unscheduled shutdown of the Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) nuclear reactor in Chalk River, Ontario. The reactor will be offline for at least three months, AECL said.

Aglukkaq advocated discussion among the international medical community on how to deal with the global shortage and to provide sufficient supplies to each country. She described the situation as a "challenging task," which must balance the needs of physicians in the Canadian provinces with the international medical isotope demands and trade issues that go beyond Canada's border.

To help develop solutions to reoccurring shortages, Aglukkaq named former SNM President Dr. Alexander McEwan as a special advisor on medical isotopes to the health minister. McEwan currently serves as the director of oncology at the Cross Cancer Institute at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

Related Reading

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MDS advocates Maple reactor activation, June 1, 2009

AECL reactor down 'at least three months,' May 29, 2009

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