ANAHEIM, CA - Supplies of molybdenum have been stable for the past few months, but will this key radioisotope continue to be available in the future? Alan Packard, PhD, president-elect of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging for the 2019-2020 term, spoke with AuntMinnie.com at this week's annual conference.
Never entirely stable, supplies of molybdenum have been even more tenuous in recent years since the shutdown several years ago of a nuclear reactor in Chalk River, Canada, that provided most of the molybdenum supply for North America. And new U.S. sources have yet to come online, leaving just four international suppliers of molybdenum generators, which are shipped to nuclear medicine sites for the production of technetium-99m.
One of the issues is that reactors have been converting from using highly enriched uranium -- which is becoming less favored as it's also the same material used to make nuclear bombs -- to low-enriched uranium. The latter is safer, but configuring reactors took time and took capacity out of the molybdenum supply chain, Packard explained.