By AuntMinnie.com staff writers

September 13, 2019 -- A mechanical problem at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation's (ANSTO) Lucas Heights nuclear medicine facility has again forced the medical isotope maker to curtail production.

A September 11 report in the Guardian quoted an ANSTO spokesperson as saying that repairs are underway and the production of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), the precursor to technetium-99m (Tc-99m), will resume after the issue is "safely and properly rectified." In the meantime, a director at one imaging center predicted that the Mo-99 shortage could create a supply crisis as soon as next week.

ANSTO said it had distributed medical isotopes to hospitals and nuclear medicine clinics before the September 6 incident. The agency added that it expects shipments from sources outside Australia to increase gradually "over the next three weeks, starting with 10% of normal supply from next week and working up to around a third of normal supply by early next month," according to the Guardian.

In July, ANSTO increased prices for its medical isotopes by 3% to 9%, after receiving a license to begin full production of Mo-99 at its new nuclear facility in June.

In June 2018, Australia was forced to import technetium generators for several months when a mechanical problem with a conveyor belt at the Open Pool Australian Lightwater (OPAL) reactor caused ANSTO to stop Mo-99 production.


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