The action comes in response to recent recommendations from the Expert Review Panel on Medical Isotope Production, which advised the government to "expeditiously engage in the replacement" of the National Research Universal (NRU) nuclear reactor in Chalk River, Ontario.
The reactor, operated by Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL), has been offline since May 2009 due to a major water leak. AECL anticipates that repairs will not be completed until late July. The shutdown has forced nuclear medicine departments and suppliers across North America to scramble for new sources.
The panel also encouraged the Canadian government to make a decision on a new research reactor "quickly to minimize any gap between the start-up of a new reactor and the permanent shutdown of the NRU."
The panel also wrote that a multipurpose research reactor "represents the best primary option to create a sustainable source of Mo-99 [molybdenum-99], recognizing that the reactor's other missions would also play a role in justifying the costs."
The Canadian government's plans include the creation of a clinical trials network and ways to optimize the use of isotopes in the health system.
Covidien warns of 'extreme' Mo-99 shortage in May, March 30, 2010
AECL delays NRU restart to late July, March 26, 2010
SNM warns of 'significant disruptions' in Mo-99 supply, March 22, 2010
FDA, Health Canada approve Polish moly, March 11, 2010
Canada to invest again in AECL, March 5, 2010
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